07/08/2017 14:28 SAST | Updated 07/08/2017 15:04 SAST

Mduduzi Manana Must Resign Following 'Vile' Assault On Woman -- Lawyers For Human Rights

"If anyone is in doubt about why we still need Women’s Month in 2017, this is it."

Mduduzi Manana.
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Mduduzi Manana.

Mduduzi Manana's nightclub attack shows "just how normalised violence against women has become in South African society, and just how little we have come to expect from our leaders," says Sanja Bornman of the Lawyers For Human Rights Gender Equality Programme.

The independent human rights organisation on Monday called for the higher education deputy minister to immediately resign as "a man of this aggressive character is clearly unfit to lead".

"These events beggar belief. Today marks only the seventh day of national Women's Month, and yet this is already the second news report of an assault on a woman in public," Bornman said in a press statement. The first incident on Wednesday saw six white men attack and assault a black couple outside a KFC in Montana, Pretoria North.

"If anyone is in doubt about why we still need Women's Month in 2017, this is it," she remarked. "For a deputy minister to physically assault a woman under any circumstances is nothing short of vile."

Manana faced widespread condemnation on Monday after he allegedly attacked Mandisa Duma at Cubana restaurant, Johannesburg, the evening before during a heated political argument. According to Duma's brother Phesheya, she broke a rib during the assault, injured her knee and is struggling to walk.

Manana has since apologised for the assault, saying he believes "an apology is enough to fix the damage".

"Allow me to extend my apologies to the nation at large and the victims of assault, an apology is enough to fix the damages. Let's allow the law," Manana said in a tweet on Monday following outcry on social media.

Lawyers for Human Rights on Monday said they "categorically condemn" Manana's actions and "reject the normalisation of violence".

The organisation's director, Jacob van Garderen, said events over the last few days demonstrate the "intersectional vulnerability of women, with black women in particular at risk not only of the every-day violence from men, but also of racially-motivated hate crime".

Van Garderen said the organisation hopes legislation to "deal decisively with crime motivated by racism and other prejudices" will be introduced in Parliament this year.

Meanwhile, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa has condemned Manana's actions but said a decision on which specific disciplinary measures would be taken against the accused had not yet been made.

The Democratic Alliance, meanwhile, has also called for Manana to resign after his alleged assault.

"While we welcome that a criminal case has been opened against him, this is simply not enough," DA MP Hlomela Bucwa said on Monday.

"[He] must immediately apologise and then resign from his post. He is clearly unsuited to hold it. If the ANC government were at all serious about protecting women, they would immediately suspend him pending a full and thorough investigation," she said.