“Wathinta Umfazi” Self-defense class

In 1956, approximately 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against South Africa’s pass laws that required “black” South Africans to carry internal passports, known as pass books, when travelling anywhere within the borders of South Africa. This was done in an effort to control urbanisation, maintain population segregation and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era. The women of that time stood together to fight against the injustices of being treated unfairly by the government and they felt it was up to them to instigate change.

Women today face different challenges to the ones of the women of 1956 but the struggle still continues. These days women in South Africa face an injustice of a more severe nature,that being, violence against women. The instances of women dying at the hands of their male counterparts has increased significantly and it has become a problem that needs to be addressed. The medical research council (MRC) has found that 40% of men assault their partners daily, and three women in South Africa are killed every day by their partners. Contributing factors such as alcohol abuse have a major influence on the instances and the extent of violence against women but solutions to these problems need to be found.

It is in this light that the Hout Bay Partnership took the opportunity on the 9th of August to invite a few young girls from the Sistahood Project in Imizamo Yethu and a few young girls from Hangberg to participate in a Self-defense class run by Peter Micheals. Peter holds International championship titles in martial arts and is currently coaching mixed martial arts (MMA) to local youth in Hout Bay. Martial arts are a codified system of combat practices that are used for a number of reasons, with self-defense being one of them.

The class was held at the Harvest Youth Centre in the Harbour and it was time well spent. Peter showed the girls how to use their bodies to get out of confrontational situations and to protect themselves when possible. He explained that the best result in any physical confrontation would be to be able to get away from the situation unharmed.

Seeing the girls gaining their confidence slowly in all the moves that Peter taught them was inspiring. Hopefully they won’t find themselves in situations where they will have to use the moves but if they do at least they will be better equipped mentally and physically to defend themselves.

The Hout Bay Partnership would like to thank Peter Micheals for sharing his skills, knowledge and time with the girls, and we would also like to thank the girls from Sistahood for taking their futures and their safety into their own hands and joining us on the day.