Let Our Lawyer introduce Susan Larkan. She is an anti-gender-based violence activist, a past victim and survivor. She endured many struggles and hardship, and we have much to learn from her.
Our lawyer had the opportunity to interview Susan Larkan on the terrible issue of Gender-based Violence. Gender-based violence is a serious problem in South Africa and we therefore appreciate it people speak out on the topic. It is definitely not easy to do, and we appreciate taking the time to enlighten and educate us. To connect with Susan, or make use of her service, feel free to complete the form below. For now, read on to learn more about Susan and Gender-based Violence.
Our Lawyer – Please, tell us about yourself:
I am 59 years old, my life changed drastically at the age of 17 when we left Cape Town for the Transvaal. I met my first husband. It has been a roller coaster ride all the way
I have 3 of my own children who are now 40, 37, 30 and an adopted daughter of 25. I was a foster parent and crisis mother for many years
My broken marriages (4) have seen me living on the street, losing everything and in women’s homes and safe homes but I will not allow that to stop me. Sad to say all ended with some form of abuse.
Our Lawyer – Please share with us some of your experiences on Gender-based Violence:
GBV has left me with PTS (post trauma stress) and nightmare disorders, hospitalised for breakdowns and a few years ago met a wonderful psychologist Previna from Durban, who walked through my darkest days and really built me up that I have managed the PTS (post trauma stress) and depressions that now I do not allow myself to be put into those states of mind. I have used meditation to develop a strong emotional strength, I have managed to deal with the effects. Yes, there are times I feel the depression and fear creeping in but more than often can pull myself out of it without medical assistance.
Our Lawyer – We believe you are an activist in relation to children and education. Please tell us more about it:
I am an activist for the rights of children to be educated and the rights of parents to receive the exemptions or reductions if they qualify.
This I have been doing for 24Years due to my own victimization and false arrests and the victimization and discrimination of my children at school at the time when I myself needed to access this right I was constantly denied it.
I fought for 3 years in the civil court and would not let up while always being brought back to court sometime biweekly I continued my research and studies of the South African Schools ACT and the Credit Act. And used it and won at the end of a gruelling 3 -4-year battle with the system.
My case was one of them that changed the regulations on admissions and fees which were then enforced to be made public and educate the parents of all learners in 2007.
Ms N Pandor who was the MEC at the time while my case went on and had sent numerous faxes in those days responded to me eventually and helped me indirectly throw the book at the school.
I was instrumental in assisting others and as I am not a lawyer I assisted in background and got the WITS Legal Team who was very involved in the rights of the learner in those days to bring class actions on a number of schools. The attorney suing me on behalf of the school tried to lay charges of me personating and portraying myself as a lawyer which was never the case. That failed as well.
I then realised that I knew and had mounds of information and I knew what I was talking about and would sit in the quads at civil court and speak to the many that were there for the same issues I watched attorneys bullying and schools calling for homes to be sold and much more. Some attorneys realised I was now informing the people of their rights they tried to stop me. So, I went home and made little flyers and would hand them out and ask them to call me if they wished.
I had politicians trying to gag me as now I was also calling for the ward councillors to be active in the assistance of their community members when needed many working together but like with everything others are reluctant to get involved.
The cherry on the cake was when a man living quite close to me had lost everything through a bad business deal. His home was foreclosed on his children who were at the same school as mine were asked to leave the school which they had tried with me as well. He was not given his rights to apply. After the one Wednesday court hearing the same attorney for the school account, I was handed over for was really ugly in practice. This man had no way of making even a payment arrangement let alone find someone to represent him. The Sheriff the same day had pitched at his home and removed items and one item was his business computer.
Now not even having a tool to work with he was at his end. Went to make a slice of toast which he forgot about and burnt it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
He took himself upstairs and blew his brains out saying to his teenage daughter that he is so worthless and cannot even make a slice of toast anymore.
It has had a huge impact on me not giving up. I watched Gogo’s RDP homes being taken from them when they received pensions and child grants. My children stepfather home was attached which was illegal as he had not taken on parental duties of the children or adopted them or fostered them. It was just never ending… much of it still goes on. Although today the Public schools may not attach assets for the fees outstanding. Private School is a different matter as they are regulated under the National Credit Act.
Our Lawyer – We believe you started an NGO. Tell us more about it:
I started an NGO in 2005 and met up with many small NPO / CBO/ and other individuals working within their communities.
The NGO developed into an umbrella organization which assisted in gaining funding from industry which we then were able to assist the smaller NPO with funding. We were never successful in any of our state grant applications or LOTTO, so we just stopped applying. Our funding came from local business and fundraisers.
This work took me deep into the lives of people, mainly the South Durban Basin suburbs of Merebank, Wentworth, Bluff then out to the North Verulam Durban North which then exploded into a national cause and many would hear about me and I started fighting the battles via emails and phone calls.
I would walk the streets and when I had petrol drive the streets, looking for children not in school and would go and see the parents and place the children in their nearest schools. Children were not attending school due to the parents being unemployed or children not having the correct uniforms etc.
Often making “enemies” with department heads as I insisted, they follow the ACT on admissions and fees in public schools. Headmasters would often refuse to address me, but I became the festering sore which they eventually attended to just to get the matter sorted out. LOL But also made many friends in the department and once they knew I was right we worked together and still do today. Also have many new challenges with departments.
Through the school matters the other social difficulties started to immerge and GBV is one of them – I then realised how many people suffered through GBV and that cause to fight it was incorporated into our organization. I have many stories to tell so I will be here forever.
Our Lawyer – Tell us about your view on Gender-based Violence in South Africa:
Gender-based violence (GBV) does not discriminate. Any person of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender can be a victim or perpetrator.
I was a victim which now I call myself a survivor of GBV. I started to realise that I was not alone in this, that GBV is a massive social problem and just seems to become worse and worse, as the perpetrators are very seldom arrested and charged.
GBV does not only happen in the form of physical abuse but it comes in psychological, emotional, financial/economic, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, forced early marriage, domestic violence, rape, marital rape, trafficking, and female genital mutilation. GBV even manifests itself in the workplace.
GBV has serious consequences to physical and psychological health and social well-being. GBV must not be a silent issue and by being silent you would then be normalising this social scourge that is destroying the induvial and homes and communities.
I fought my husband, the first was the most damaging which has had a huge effect on my life.
As we also know that GBV does not only affect the person it is been dealt on but has such wide effect on the immediate family especially if there are minors involved. Then it starts seeping out the home and into the extended family and friends. Many times, people do not want to be involved they shun you. They are inclined to elaborate that you are looking for attention. In my opinion yes you are looking for attention you are screaming for someone to notice the abuse and crying for help, but it falls on deaf ears. I became very despondent and lost many friends including family that cut ties with me over the years and I have had to cut ties with immediate family to become a survivor. I try and console myself by saying they just do not understand and do not want to understand.
You would hear them say – just ignore his behaviour, exceedingly difficult to do if you are the one being abused. GBV is a huge problem and comes in many guises, throughout South Africa, within our communities which are very culturally orientated and religious upbringings etc. As far as religious doctrine I struggled for years to have my marriage annulled in the Catholic Church and was made to feel that all the abuse was my doing and so many times did the heads of the church at the time tell me to go back to my husband as divorce was frowned upon. Even with court records and restraining orders after my legal divorce the church was still opposed to the annulment. I eventually was granted the annulment, but it was a lonely battle. So many Religions still do not want to assist or guide those that are experiencing GBV in the right way and hence you will find that you have people like myself leaving the religion following.
GBV does not have a status to whom it happens to, some families are just too good in pushing the abuse under the carpet.
GBV issues were seen amongst many and consistent need to assist people being abused, we would be referred, or a mother would hear of me and make contact mainly by SMS then we would prepare them to be moved.
Our office was busier than the authorities (SAPS, Social Workers etc) as people new they received the help and no discrimination was placed on the person. No matter what their circumstance was.
Risking our lives at most and would rescue the mother and children and place them in safe homes. Sometimes we had the cooperation of SAPS to accompany us but mostly we were on our own.
We had homes for abused women and children and networked with other safe homes. I would go with the abused and apply for protection orders and was permitted by certain magistrates eventually to represent the complainant in their application in court beside them as some were just too afraid to speak out.
We have had some cases where it has been the man that we have had to assist. We must never deny that a woman can be as much an abuser, but more than most it is the man or in the same gender relationship would be the dominant figure who is the abuser.
We would receive all kinds of social cases and I went into battle with many social workers, they just were not and still do not do what they were supposed to do. We were now dealing with child sexual assaults; I was removing children as the police would not do it and would then be off to court the next morning to place the child in care.
We were dealing with victims of murder and rape as well counselling as much as we could as there were no professionals available.
I was dealing with Government departments and Political entities who constantly try to gag me -still happens today. Which shows us that GBV is still not acknowledged as a crisis in South Africa. We only hear Politicians and Government expressing the No to GBV during the month of August (Woman’s Month) This is a 365-day issue and needs to be address all year round.
I had a case in the high court where the father had the wealth and took an urgent application to have his children returned to him. This mother and her two girls we rescued in the middle of the night. I represented the mother and after the Judge invited me to give my arguments gave me affidavits to file within 48hours. This caused chaos in the court, but I was immensely proud of my layman efforts
At the end we won that case and the father was refused all access to the children. He was also a drug lord and threatened me which he then tried to sue me in the High Court which was dismissed.
Unfortunately, this was not a happy ending for this Mom and children.
These are mainly little snips that I can think of now that has made me carry on my fight for justice.
I still work under the name Tabansi as an individual, although I am no longer a registered NGO. Tabansi (African origin) means “enduring”. Okiciyapi (Red Indian origin) means “Helping Each Other-holding hands”.
Our Lawyer – Thank you for your time Susan. It was much appreciated.
Arrange an advice Consultation (non-legal) with Susan Larkan
Would you like to consult with Suzan Larkan? The consultation can take place telephonically, via Zoom, WhatsApp Video, Skype or Face to Face, in Cape Town. The costs are R 450 – 00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Rand) for an hour or for part thereof. Complete the form below and receive an email with further details.
That the consultation and fees charged by Susan Larkan is not connected to Our Lawyer (Pty) Ltd. You will be dealing directly with Susan Larkan; and
That the consultation is not for legal advice. The consultation will be with Sue Larkan, who is not a legal person, whereby she can give you advice based on her experiences. We assume that you are familiar with Sue Larkan and her knowledge surrounding issues of Gender-based Violence, Domestic Violence and Public School matters i.e. (exemption and admissions / declined admissions) in South Africa.