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Gender Violence in South Africa – Men, now is the time for us to ACT

Devan Moonsamy

Currently, in South Africa, men’s rights activists like those in the US are less common. On the other hand, recent activism by men in South Africa has tended to be out of concern for the plight of women and girls. Activist Siyabulela Jentile (quoted in Moatshe, 2017), who helped organise a men’s march against the abuse of women inPretoria in2017,stated:

We are aware of what is happening in the country. We were not going to fold our arms and do nothing while our women and girlfriends continue to be victimised daily… We are men who want to hold each other accountable. The fact that me and you don’t beat up our girlfriends or our wives doesn’t mean we should be excluded from a call for men to desist from abusing women. We will look at how we, as gents, can forge a way forward to stop abuse against women. We must get down there on the ground with the people. There are men who are afraid to speak up against abuse… The most important thing would be to get men to come through and listen to our message. We want to say to the guys that they can be better men by stopping the raping, killing and burning of women… Don’t make criminals to be comfortable in our midst.

The march included a coalition of individuals and men’s civil society groups. Jentile called for men to report abuse against women committed by other men, and thus not to protect abusers to the detriment of women and society in general (Moatshe, 2017). Fellow campaign organiser Kholofelo Masha (quoted in Davies, 2017) said that violence against women must urgently be challenged. Of situations such as JJ’s, whose story is given in the introduction, Masha says, ‘If we do nothing, we are saying we accept this culture.’ Even though JJ does not say he agrees with the violent culture Masha is referring to, his silence in front of a sexist is taken as consent for it. This can make contact with the person increasingly difficult. JJ did not nip the problem in the bud by letting Rob know that his highly sexist and criminal thoughts are rejected. Rob continues to cause a variety of problems for JJ and his colleagues, but it seems they are stuck with him, partly as a result of their own choices. It is surprising what people will put up with from dastards (that is, a dishonourable man) like Rob, and we really need to put a stop to it.

Kholofelo Masha continued, ‘People like Karabo [Mokoena] are murdered by close, intimate partners who they trusted with their lives… it cannot continue this way.’ Mokoena was murdered by her boyfriend, and it was not an isolated case, including the modus operandi of the murder. Researchers have pointed out that the incidence of such intimate partner femicides (murder of women and girls by someone close to them) is very high in South Africa compared to worldwide averages. It has been confirmed that at least half of murdered women die at the hands of their intimate partners (Makou, 2018). More research is needed to determine the extent of the problem, and some have pointed out that homicide rates are very high in the country in general (ibid). Data we have from research by the World Health Organization (quoted in Makou, 2018) shows that the femicide rate in South Africais several times higher than it is globally – up to five times higher. It is certain that violent acts against women and girls are exceptionally high in South Africa, which shows the way in which they are perceived by men around them. Their very lives simply do not seem to matter.

However, reactions to the murder and rape of the UCT student indicate that some men are fed up with the treatment of women in South Africa: This needs to be a more common type of reaction. It seems that some men care not at all for the consequences of their actions against women, children and the community; but there are many like Jentile, Masha and their fellows who see it as a grave offence against all of us.

This is important because men do know what discrimination feels like. Men may be discriminated against for being dark-skinned, for being ‘too young’ or ‘too old’, for their sexuality, body type, income, even simply for their height. They are victims of abuse, bullying and violence, including as children. Men are also not always well treated by their partners and families. We are all human, we mustn’t forget we have so much in common, and not reporting abuse on the basis of gender is illogical. Men and boys can thus identify with women and girls to a good extent, and vice versa, if we make the effort. Everyone has experienced discrimination, though it varies in intensity and frequency from person to person, and it is worse for women and girls, but men may not take this seriously. They may sweep it under the carpet until it becomes so bad that the damage is permanent or irreversible. Perhaps it is somewhat different elsewhere, such as in the US where men are worried about their rights, but in Africa, women and girls face a very complex, challenging and violent situation.

Devan Moonsamy runs the ICHAF Training Institute, and he is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, available from the ICHAF Training Institute.

The book tackles contemporary issues in the South African workplace, including a variety of diversity-related challenges and how these can be addressed. It is an excellent guide for managers to harnessing diversity for success.

ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: |

Website: |

Disturbing “Record-Breaking” Unemployment Levels – How We Can Be The Solution!

Devan Moonsamy

On the one hand, we have massive unemployment, on the other, we have a skills shortage. How can we balance these? The Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) in South Africa explains how we should view the skills shortage in some detail in an article from some time ago. It is still relevant as so many problems have still not been addressed fully and gets to the heart of the unemployment and skills crises. The CDE says, “we are short of skills across the board, including people with the skills to create more jobs.”

This is very true, as I have found. At ICHAF, we don’t simply hire people and put them to work as trainers. We conduct “Train the trainer” initiatives, besides other related activities, so that trainers learn best practices, can do the admin tasks required, and don’t let students who need extra help down. This is critical to increasing the number of skilled workers in SA.

This is also true in another sense. We need job creators – entrepreneurs who create businesses and hire and train staff. Entrepreneurship is pretty daunting for some. It’s not easy for a youth to take on without the drive, skills, and especially the ability to take on the risks involved. Entrepreneurial training helps a lot, as well as experience gathered in the relevant field.

Thus, we also need to realise that, if we have the aptitude for it and can take on the responsibilities and risk that come with a new venture, we should spread our wings and fly. If we have had some good training and experience (including learning some hard lessons too) pretty soon, we will find we can make a livable income running our own business and hopefully offer employment to others too.

Youth entrepreneurs exist, and that’s great, but it is also great when older people upskill themselves, engage in workplace learning, and start to run businesses drawing on their experience, knowledge and maturity. People at all levels and in all fields can be trained, and I have heard time and again managers of recently trained staff say “I can see a difference in their work!”

This makes the manager’s role easier and gives the staff member much more confidence and the ability to meet customer’s needs in a more professional way. We know how frustrating it is to work with someone who, even through no fault of their own, just doesn’t know how to do their job.

Companies that don’t train their staff end up forcing the customer to do so! Or they take their business elsewhere! Companies with good staff get customers in the door and repeat business, which fuels the economy and uplifts people’s livelihoods.

If a company is willing to get their employees into learnerships, or even for short-term intensive interventions, we can fix another problem identified by CDE: “many young people are unemployed because the education system has failed to provide them with the literacy, numeracy, and life skills they need to meet employers’ requirements.” This is so true!

And we mustn’t forget that we are still living with the legacy of apartheid. Thus, older staff members also deserve to be trained, and from experience I have seen that it is not correct that older people struggle to learn. Initially, they may feel overwhelmed and think they won’t manage, but very quickly they get into the swing of things, and they do just as well as the youths. Older people also can tend to take their studies more seriously.

Their maturity is also extremely valuable. In some cases, people prefer to deal with an older individual when their needs are quite specialised. For example, parents will tend to be happier dealing with a school principal who was a good teacher for a number of years and knows a lot about school administration too. A school principal needs quite a lot of training and experience, and that can only come with time. This is not discrimination against anyone; it just means that the education system works better. Beating unemployment means training every one of all ages and all employment levels.

It is true that as businesses grow they tend to diversify their offerings and need more staff with different skills for a variety of roles. Big businesses also seem to have the time and budget to dedicate to training. Small businesses thus tend to neglect training.

It doesn’t pay to cut corners, however, and if a small business wants to grow or even just to tick over, they must take into consideration that client expectations are increasing as other companies start to offer better deals with better-trained staff. SA is becoming increasingly competitive, often with several companies vying for tenders and customers’ money. You have to stay ahead of the game, and the best way to do that is to have a capable team on your side.

Why not start just one or a few staff members you think have potential on a learnership? Investigate the process – and the awesome tax rebate you will get which makes it practically free – and contact a reputable training company that can upskill your staff member with the exact skills they need. You won’t regret it.

ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, learnerships and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: |

Website: |

Training in SA Pays For Itself: The Tax Benefits of Accredited Staff Training

By Devan Moonsamy

Whether your company is big or small, it is in line for tax benefits between R40 000 and R120 000 per learner completing an accredited course!

The value in training staff through learnerships, internships and skills programmes accredited companies benefits your company financially in several ways. Well-trained staff are far better equipped to meet client and internal company needs. It also brings about personal growth and social and economic growth and upliftment. However, if you are concerned about the costs involved, both the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) relevant to your industry have structured financial benefits for companies that train their staff through accredited providers.

The Income Tax Act provides employers with a tax allowance when they enter into qualifying registered learnership agreements with their employees to encourage skills development and job creation. The allowance is an incentive paid by SARS to employers that train employees according to the requirements of the relevant SETA. Those in the training field are aware of the desperate need for training in South Africa, and the government is also serious about promoting this. Thus companies are in line for these excellent benefits, but few take advantage of them.

Companies can receive both an annual allowance for each year a learner is under a registered learnership agreement, and a completion allowance as a once-off payment upon the employee’s successful completion of their studies. Curious to know just how much this amounts to? You will be surprised!

For a learner without a disability, the annual tax allowance is between R20 000 and R40 000, depending on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level at which the student is studying. As for the completion allowance, it is the same amount! Thus, a learner registered for and completing a year-long learnership through an accredited training provider can lead to a R40 000 to R80 000 tax benefit for the company in addition to their increased expertise and skills competencies.

Should the learner have a disability, the benefits are more than double!  The annual allowance is R50 000 to R60 000, depending on the NQF level. Again the completion allowance is also R50 000 to R60 000. Employing and training a person with a disability is thus a major advantage to a company. Accredited training leads to a R100 000 to R120 000 tax benefit for a single year-long learnership in these cases.

This means that learnerships end up paying for themselves and cost the company far less than most assume. The main outlay is merely stationery and computer access. Learners do need time to attend training sessions, and possibly a short period of leave to study for their final test, if this is required for their qualification. This small investment will see exponential results, as I have witnessed time and again with our learners at ICHAF. A wonderful example of this is where employees I worked with started out as cleaners and drivers and grew through training into admin and management positions. Employees in such cases feel valued and enjoy their work. They remain engaged in the workplace and loyal to their employer over many years of their career.

Many employers shy away from training as they think it is too costly. They may also think that only large companies that pay the Skills Development Levy are eligible for benefits. This is not true. An employer exempt from the payment of the levy under the Skills Development Levies Act qualifies for a learnership allowance if all other the requirements are met. For example, the training provider must be accredited, and the learner, employer and training provider must together sign a learnership agreement and ensure it is adhered to.

To reap the benefits of staff training that pays for itself, ensure that your company meets the SARS and SETA requirements. Refer to the SARS “Guide on the Tax Incentive for Learnership Agreements” for detailed information. Claims are made using the SARS IT180 IB180 form, “Declaration by employer for the purpose of claiming a deduction for an allowance in respect of a learnership agreement or contract of apprenticeship.”

There are 21 industry-specific SETAs covering everything from agriculture (AGRISETA) to wholesale and retail businesses (W&RSETA). If your company is involved in construction, for example, then you simply need to find out the training requirements of the Construction SETA, which is called CETA. The relevant SETA will provide information on what courses are approved and which companies are accredited to provide them.

One of the most effective introductory courses suitable for most learners is the General Education and Training Certificate in Business Practices (NQF1) administered by the Services SETA. It is a year-long course and, thereafter, the student can progress to more advanced studies and eventually specialise in a certain field. This is but one qualification available from training providers such as ICHAF which is approved for the excellent tax benefits described above.

ICHAF Training honoured by Child and Family Welfare

Devan Moonsamy from the ICHAF Training Institute has been honoured by Verulam Child and Family Welfare charity for his organisation’s ongoing support to the children of South Africa since 2012. Devan’s parents, Mr Mannie and Mrs Lilly Moonsamy, accepted the award on ICHAF’s behalf. Continuous funding to Child Welfare from ICHAF has contributed to poverty alleviation over the past seven years.

Through Verulam Welfare, ICHAF donations are aimed at helping whole families. This helps build a stronger, healthier family unit, which is still the most critical source of care and support for a child. Nevertheless, more than 6.6 million children live in poverty in South Africa and more than 1.8 million of these children live with neither parent. They are thus in very vulnerable situations with little or no proper adult care and supervision. We know the plight of AIDS orphans and child-headed households is a terrible reality in Africa, and it is vital that more companies and donors focus intensely on their needs.

Young children lack the experience and financial access to improve their lives on their own. Yet there are still many left without their basic living and education needs met. All donations should help the most needy, but many remain neglected, especially in rural areas that are hard to access, and where it is difficult for organisations based in cities to spread their reach. Organisations with reach in rural areas are better placed to help these children and donors should focus on these for maximum effect.

ICHAF is combating child welfare problems in a number of ways. Among the costs covered by the donations are food, healthcare and medical expenses, and domestic child and baby care. Financial assistance is made towards children in foster care to ensure their wellbeing in what is still a potentially vulnerable situation. To ensure children living in vulnerable situations receive education access towards their own upliftment in future, school fees and tutoring are also covered.

ICHAF has been the most consistent funder to the Verulam Child Welfare to date, but this remains an uncommon situation. Many donations are made to help children; however, they tend to be once-off, leading to inconsistent access. Thus, some schools in Africa may receive a donation of stationery, for example, but nothing else again for a long time. This may help in one area in the short term, but companies and other donors should shift to long-term funding strategies.

One way to do this is to ensure that specific, identified children in vulnerable situations benefit over the course of their schooling. Donors can focus on a specific area or need, such as children with a disability from low-income homes, and ensure their unique educational needs are met in the long term so that they are equipped by the time they reach adulthood to have greater independence and a source of income. These kinds of interventions are the ones that make a real difference.

Devan says that support for recognised, well-run charities in South Africa is very important and more companies and people should channel support to these organisations which already have effective programmes in place. Interventions are properly managed, and the results are visible. One can also donate time and effort, and second-hand clothes, shoes, stationery, and books will always be welcome.

There has been an outcry over the poor state of education in the country, particularly the low literacy and numeracy levels. We may sit and wonder why the government doesn’t simply improve the curriculum and conduct more teacher training. While this is helping, we should not miss other potent causal factors of the education crisis – which begin in the home and not in the school environment.

Prof. Jace Pillay, a researcher in education and care in childhood at the University of Johannesburg, thus explains that vulnerable children tend to perform poorer than their peers largely due to a lack of facilities and homework support. This contributes in a major way to the education crisis. There is simply no one available to assist these children, and their teachers are overwhelmed with their workload so that they cannot help their learners enough on the individual level. Other adults are needed to fill in the gaps for these children, such as tutors and orphanage workers. Funding should be directed to help with these costs.

Devan is thus urging other companies to get in touch with him or Child Welfare directly so as to discuss new funding or partnership opportunities and so that more awareness can be created about sustainable donating for the improvement of children’s lives in the long term.

Please contact Devan or Verulam Child and Family Welfare using the contact details below. Alternatively, contact a charity in your area, or one which focuses on a specific need you or your company would like to help with.

Tel: 011 262 2461
Cell: 083 303 9159

Verulam Child and Family Welfare
Address: 5/7 Church Street, Verulam, KZN
Tel: 032 533 1046

Devan Moonsamy featured in the 2019 April edition of Premiere Magazine

Devan Moonsamy is honoured to be the feature article in the 2019 April edition of Premiere Magazine