Mandela bikers take on gender issues

12 July 2013

Bikers for Mandela Day, together with a number of key sponsors and contributors, will be supporting various initiatives this Mandela Month to drive awareness of gender-based violence issues as part of the broader movement to inspire change for Mandela Day.

The Bikers for Mandela Day initiative sees groups of volunteer bikers and celebrities traversing parts of southern Africa each July, stopping along the way to engage in community awareness and upliftment activities aimed at spreading the Mandela day message.

“The aim is to embrace Mr Mandela’s legacy of doing good and in so doing to inspire change in other’s lives, with the emphasis on educating and engaging communities to positively affect change,” Zelda la Grange, a convenor of Bikers for Mandela Day, said in a statement on Thursday.

This year, after a number of other incidents put the spotlight on gender-based violence in South Africa, the bikers, with the backing of First for Women Insurance Trust, will be championing initiatives to change people’s mindsets around gender while supporting the victims of violence.

“Levels of gender-based violence are still unacceptably high in South Africa,” said La Grange, who is also a patron of First for Women Insurance Trust. “The statistics speak for themselve,s and what is needed is a programme of prevention that drives awareness and education, together with the mobilisation and participation of civil society to address this challenge and change behaviour.”

The bikers’ 2013 tour begins on Saturday, 13 July in Mafikeng in North-West province, one of the three cities in South Africa with the highest incidence of rape. The bikers will create a vegetable garden and children’s jungle gym for the Mafikeng Lifeline Crisis Centre, which provides a safe house for victims of abuse as well as counsellors for the Stop Gender Violence Helpline (0800 150 150).

All bikers in the Mafikeng area are invited to take part, the entrance fee being a hard-cover story book that can be read by victims while they are sheltered at the centre (contact 018 381 0976).

On Sunday, across the border, Bikers for Mandela will be joining the Botswana Biker Society in visiting Ramotswa, close to Gaborone, to offer support for a victim and survivor of physical abuse who has been ostracised by her community (contact Peter Moalafi +267 727 32099).

On Monday, 15 July, the bikers will be painting the Makeba Centre for Girls in Midrand, Johannesburg, which provides a sanctuary for destitute and/or abused girls that have been removed from their circumstances through a court process.

Bikers wishing to join in should bring any toiletries for girls (such deodorant, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body lotions, etc) as a “participation fee” (contact 011 805 1150).

On Mandela Day, 18 July, Bikers for Mandela day in Bloemfontein will assist with a community street clean-up in Mangaung, Heidedal and Brandhof (bikers contact Stefan Boshoff 082 337 2876), after which they will participate in an initiaitive by the No Student Hungry campaign of the University of the Free State.

The No Student Hungry Programme aims to raise funds to provide modest food bursaries for needy students, and give them daily access to a balanced meal at the university, under the leadership of Professor Jonathan Jansen and his wife, Grace Jansen.

SAinfo reporter