'Men must also turn against other men if they are violent'

Father’s Day for men in Daveyton, Ekhuruleni kicked off with a passionate discussion around gender-based violence, followed by a hot meal of pap and steak, and ended in high spirits as men chanted songs to celebrate their brotherhood.

The Fathers Matter team led by Heartlines facilitator Johannes Masilela, fondly known as ‘Bra Jo’, unpacked hot topics for men in the community of Daveyton.

“I hope that the men in this group do not hit their wives or their children. That is not the kind of man we want to support here. Remember you are not only the head of your house but you are also the head of the community and our children look up to you,” he said.

“Our group of men come home early, not at 5am in the morning, walking in the streets drunk from beer.”

The men nodded in agreement with Bra Jo’s statement.

“The problem is that we men don’t want to listen. We refuse to be told how to run our households, [we think] our wives and children are our property, and anyone who intervenes is seen as being too forward and disrespectful,” said Mlawuli Mkwambi

“The only time a man wakes up is when he is in jail, so it’s our duty to not mislead each other,” he added.

“But how do we intervene then? I know my neighbor is beating up his wife, and you are right, a man cannot be told what to do in his house,” said David Mbewe

“You must report him to the police! It’s not just the women who must go to the police, we [men] must also turn against other men if we see they are violent,” shouted a voice from the crowd.

Prompted by this statement, Ntate Masangane stood up and said, “Bafowethu, we are neighbors, I want my neighbor Bra Jo to look out for me and tell me if there is someone outside my door who wants to break in and steal from my house and put my family in danger, let's do the same for all our neighbors. If you see any suspicious behavior, even men who are beating up their wives, we must blow the whistle.”

Engaging with their children through soccer 

Bra Jo then steered the conversation towards the work the men have been doing with the children in the community through a soccer club. The kids, clad in bright red uniforms, were playing in the yard during the meeting.

“I must commend the fathers here who have joined me to start a soccer club for these kids, you are not only showing that you support your children, you also care about them and you are present in their lives,” said Bra Jo.

Vusi Masuku, a passionate soccer fan, added: “The same way in a soccer match if a player gets injured, a doctor is on standby to help him. The fans are there to cheer them on and we are passionate about which team we support. We must do the same for our children; help them when they feel hurt, support them in everything they do and stand by them no matter what challenges they face.”

Before lunch was served, the men broke into song and dance to celebrate their time together.

Many said they were grateful for the opportunity to open up about their experiences as fathers and men in their community, and the group made a commitment to meet twice a month for a Fathers Matter Connect Group. 

If you would like to host a Heartlines Fathers Matter workshop for your community of dads, send an email to info@fathersmatter.org.za or download our free Connect Group resources here.

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