Bikers take fight against gender-based violence across SA in nine days
A group of Johannesburg bikers is revving loudly on a mission to promote the fight against gender-based violence, among several other worthy causes.
Every year, the group - made up of professionals including engineers, businesswomen and corporate executives - tour South Africa’s nine provinces in nine days. They are members of the non-profit 9 Provinces in 9 Days.
On Monday the NPO’s 13 members stopped in Cape Town, where they spoke to taxi drivers and commuters at the Langa and Khayelitsha taxi ranks about bikers’ safety, the Arrive Alive campaign and gender-based violence.
One of the bikers, Gugu Tshabalala, said the fight against gender-based violence made her emotional.
“The NPO supports three initiatives,” said Tshabalala. “The one closest to my heart is the fight against gender-based violence. I have [a very close relative] who is married to a very abusive man, but she won’t leave him - even if we can talk and ... get him arrested.”
She said she hoped to broaden public knowledge of gender-based abuse through the initiative.
"It is a very complex subject. In some instances you fear for a person’s life, but they just won’t quit the relationship," she said.
"I would say no two women in abusive situations are dealing with the same issue. Some people stick around because the kids, some stick around because of the shame of walking away from a marriage, while some stay because the abusive partner is a provider.
"We need to widen the conversation and I think by travelling to different provinces and confronting the scourge [we] will put us in better stead.”
The NPO started six years ago with just three bikers.
"We have objectives as an NPO," founder Ithuteng Shai told TimesLIVE.
"The first one is road safety. It is informed by accidents that we have on the road, including bikers. For a long time, biker stats were never captured as biker accidents. They were all lumped [together] as motor vehicle accidents.
"The second one is Arrive Alive. We normally do this tour ride around December, when it is about time for Arrive Alive. We say that everybody, no matter where they are coming from, needs to arrive alive at home.
“The third one is 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children. We are saying under the helmet is a wife, a sister, a husband and a father. We can’t sit and watch the things that are happening in our communities as bikers.
"We do know that there are men who get abused but in the main it is woman and children who get abused,” added Shai.
"The other two things we stand for [are] raising awareness on diabetes and depression."
From Cape Town the bikers left for Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, having already been to Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the North West, Free State and Northern Cape. From the Eastern Cape, they are set to go to KwaZulu-Natal before returning home to Gauteng.
“Some of the things we do [includes] going to taxi ranks. There you have taxi drivers and passengers. We have people crossing the highway where they are not supposed to cross. When a motorbike comes, then it’s an accident. You have people jaywalking and they don’t observe. Lately people wear earphones,” said Shai.
“We engage them about these things."