"Forgive us for not doing enough to protect the vulnerable and weak, as at times we stood by and allowed abuse to continue unchallenged."
This formed part of a prayer of forgiveness recited by Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Njongunkulu Ndungane yesterday, during a march signaling the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence on Women and Children campaign, observed annually from 25 November to 10 December.
The day also marked International Day for No Violence Against Women and Children, calling for society to stand up against abuse on women and children, and other forms of human rights violations against these vulnerable groups.
Archbishop Ndungane and other multi-faith leaders led a Good Men's March from the Athlone Community Hall to the Athlone Stadium, where the message was clear: "Men March Against Violence Towards Women and Children!"
The "good men" of Cape Town once again committed themselves to the call to eradicate abuse on women and children.
Cape Town Unicity Deputy Mayor Pirre Uys, City Manager Wallace Mgoqi, the Director-General in the Department of Social Development Vusi Madonsela, Santos Professional Football Club chairperson Goolam Allie, South Africa Police Services, City Police and NGOs joined the religious leaders.
Archbishop Ndungane also prayed for God to teach men to grow and have respect for each other and to find kind and gentle ways of resolving conflict.
"God, essence of all goodness unite our hearts and our efforts into a collective responsibility and action to alleviate the plight of our mothers, our sisters and our children, where they may be."
With the SAPS brass band leading the way, boys and men blew whistles in support of the course.
Mr Madonsela said government's involvement in the march was a way of strengthening partnership with all stakeholders and reaffirming its stance of zero tolerance against this scourge of violence.
"We are here to confirm government's endeavor to deal with this problem and that includes legislative measures within the criminal justice system that will ensure the full might of the law against perpetrators of violence," Mr Madonsela said.
He added that poverty relief programmes specifically targeted women so that they could stand on their own.
Women met these good men at the stadium, where activities such as music and soccer were planned for the evening.
There was also an award ceremony afterwards, where women who have shown dedication to the eradication of abuse and also overcame abuse, were recognised.