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Thursday, September 24, 2020
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    Rape and murder: #AmINext

    Even though the community stepped up, assisted and supported the family, the raw pain was palpable.

    The shock of the brutal rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in eMzinoni rattled a community this past week.
    The girl was allegedly sent to the shop by neighbours and when she did not return, the search for her started late on Sunday afternoon, 8 September. A passer-by found her in the early hours of Monday morning, 9 September and informed the family. The family reported the case to the police. A suspect was identified and will appear in Bethal Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 17 September.
    On Thursday, 12 September, a community member informed The Bulletin that the family needed help with the funeral. The Bulletin immediately placed an advertisement on our Facebook page. The community responded positively and donated food and money to help with the funeral, as is customary.
    The Bulletin also visited the family on Friday, 13 September and was met by a heart-breaking scene; a family torn apart. Even though the community stepped up, assisted and supported the family, the raw pain was palpable.
    Cllr Brenda Mahlangu from the ANC released the following statement: “On behalf of Ward 23, I would like to condemn the raping and killing of the young girl that took place last week. This came as a big shock to us. This is a very barbaric act and we call for justice to prevail and grant the perpetrator a maximum sentence which should not be less than life imprisonment. Killing of innocent women and children can never be tolerated in our Ward and it shall stop right now. We thank the police for swiftly acting to arrest the perpetrator. On Tuesday, 17 September, we’re having a peaceful march against gender-based violence starting at the township. We will converge at Raymond Mavuso Community Hall at 7:30am. We are saying the perpetrator must not be granted bail.”
    Cllr Angel Khanyile, DA MP, also released the following statement: “We would like to send our condolences to the family. We would also like to thank the community for standing together and taking a stand in fighting gender-based violence. We need more men to champion the issues of gender-based violence. In most of these cases men are the perpetrators. We need men to take a stand and raise their voices. They should also be counted among the countless people who are against gender-based violence. We want to see the men on the ground as well when we march to the courts and to different places as we try to curb gender-based violence. SAPS need more support from the government to assist in their cases. The government has to ensure there are enough resources for SAPS to do their investigations etc. properly. The government also has to ensure and instil trust. They need to come back to the people and give assurance that they are assisting in this fight against gender-based violence.”
    The ongoing violence against women and children has been the talk of the country the last month. In Cape Town people marched to parliament in protest and were addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. They all asked different questions, but the hashtag #AMINEXT took the internet by storm. Some of the protesters carried posters with the words: “Enough is enough!” and “The only thing I am guilty of is having a vagina.”
    President Ramaphosa cancelled his engagements at the World Economic Forum to show his support of this movement. This protest was the biggest in the history of Cape Town.
    He informed the crowd that there was a plan to stop gender-based violence and this plan was centred around “strengthening the judicial system.”
    The President further reiterated: “Men who do all these things do not belong in society. All these measures I will respond to. We are going to strengthen the criminal judicial system. We are going to intervene and ensure government increases aid for the shelters, we want the shelters to increase and be properly funded.”
    It is all well and good that the President is trying and helping in this very sensitive case that has brought the country to a standstill, but the fact remains that there is still a culture of tolerance towards violence and the abuse of women and children amongst us. The Bulletin spoke to men and some made the following statement: “It is accepted that a woman deserves to be raped.” A source revealed that recently in one of the schools in GMM, there was a debate between the students regarding this subject. When the Gr. 11 boy realised that he was not going to win the argument, he told the girls they all deserved to be raped!
    In order for the country to stand up against gender-based violence and femicide, one must look at culture. In South Africa we are one, but cultures differ. When The Bulletin was in eMzinoni some men gave some insight into what they believed was the reason behind the rape culture: “In some cultures, it is acceptable that, should a boy like a girl, he can just take her. Her father will receive a letter that states she is safe and asks how much Lobola he wants, or he’ll be visited by the boy’s father or uncles to resolve the negotiations. This girl/woman will then be forced to have sex with the boy/man until she carries his child or submits to him.“
    There are many other cultures in South Africa that condone the ill treatment of women. Boys are brought up with the false confidence that they can have and take whatever they want. The fact that President Ramaphosa is taking steps to put a stop to this is encouraging, but as long as there is a rape culture and it is acceptable and allowed, nothing will change.
    Change starts with us and our children are the future. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and by ensuring that they are well educated and well-informed kick starts a much-needed change in society as a whole.
    It is appalling that the death of our women and children has only now started to open people’s eyes to the brutality of rape and murder being committed. The saddest part is that, in this mayhem of gender-based violence, children are the ones that suffer the most. On Tuesday, 17 September women will march from eMzinoni to the Bethal magistrate’s court where the suspect will appear. – Ané Prinsloo

    Rape and murder: #AmINext