More than 60 female officers of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) joined 500 other Gauteng women police officers to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March with a march of their own.
The JMPD women officers and their colleagues from the South African Police Service, Tshwane Metropolitan Police Department, Gauteng Traffic Police and the Emergency Management Services (EMS) marched two kilometres from the Lillian Ngoyi Square, through to Stanza Bopape Street, to the Union Buildings in Pretoria for the official celebratory event addressed by President Jacob Zuma.
As they marched, motorists and onlookers ululated and gave them words of encouragement.
Exactly 60 years ago on Tuesday, women political activists Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Amina Cachalia and Sophie du Bruyn led a 20 000-strong women’s march to the Union Buildings in protest against the apartheid government’s discriminatory laws and other injustices meted out against women. But then Prime Minister JG Strijdom refused to meet them and accept their petitions.
In contrast, Tuesday’s march was a celebratory one as women from all corners of the country converged to honour the bravery and resilience of the “Women of 1956”.
JMPD Superintendent Edna Mamonyane said she and her female colleagues took part in the march to salute the women of 1956 for braving apartheid brutality and paving the way to the freedom being enjoyed today.
“Today we as women have achieved a lot in a variety of fields.
“As much as there is a lot still to be done to emancipate women, we are proud to be following in the footsteps of our grandmothers and mothers who showed us the way.
“My plea to the women in uniform is that they must do their work with pride and diligence and should not degrade each other. Let us support one another with one goal – to serve the public with distinction.
To the public out there, I would like to plead with them to respect our women officers and give them recognition they deserve because they are daughters, wives and mothers of the very public that despises them,” she said.