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#AmINext? South Africa's Problem with Crimes Against Women

Uyinene Mrwetyana | Image: Twitter

This week has felt scary. It feels scary to live in South Africa. Now more than ever, the thought of walking outside of the structural boundaries of my secure home makes me feel as though I could suffer a panic attack.

There have been Xenophobic (more like Afrophobic) attacks since an altercation between an alleged Nigerian drug dealer and South African taxi driver turned fatal. This all scared me until more news happened to crop up. The continued and ever increasing violence against women in the country. This is nothing new. This is a scourge of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa, and to be fair, all across the globe. Being a woman can be likened to an extreme sport; The Hunger Games- it is a war on anyone who identifies as a woman.

This recent uproar came about from a devastating story. A young woman named Uyinene Mrwetyana (19 years old) went to the Post Office to pick up a package. There, was 42 year old Luyanda Botha who told her to come in after 1pm. On that particular day the post office closes at 1pm, but she was not aware. She came back only to be brutally raped and killed. Botha confessed to the crime and also said, “yhuuu undisokolisile ke Lamntana. Ufe kade” (translation: “Wow hey this child gave me trouble. Took her forever to die”). That is exactly what he said. That is the moment women truly had enough- once more.

It has been reported that every four hours a women is killed at the hands of a man. However, with incorrect reporting and unaccounted missing women, it could be every three hours instead. Despite this incident not being the first or only one, South African women are angered. Women and children are being abducted, raped, killed. We continue to be told how to protect ourselves and no one is teaching the men to not attack. We get told how to not get raped whilst perpetrators are not taught how not to rape. Children are told not to talk to strangers but strangers don’t leave children alone. We are advised to look out for older male relatives but no one tells them to stop hurting women and children.

There have been peaceful protests held in Cape Town (where Uyinene lived and studied) and now an outpouring of anger, sadness and questions from all South African women during a time when we remember all the lives of women and children lost to similar and brutal crimes. Anonymous submissions about incidences of sexual assault and rape (along with the rapist’s picture) are now making the rounds on Twitter, with general locations of these men. Women have had enough. Women are naming and shaming, but still have the fear of being shamed themselves and have to resort to anonymous submissions.

I feel so triggered. My heart is heavy and my soul is tired. I don’t have much more to add right now other than this: this is the time we don’t just change profile pictures. This is the time we don’t just wear certain colours in solidarity. This is the time we don’t just share statuses, videos, memes and hashtags. This is not the time we just have meaningless conversations and forget about what happened later on. This is not something we can desensitize ourselves to. It is time we got angry. It is time we got angry and got moving. This is the time that we (women and men) use the anger that has been boiling within each of us to create change. We should be marching, protesting and screaming out our demands for the safety of all women and children. I can no longer listen to stories of men who got away with crimes, women who are the victims of said crimes and children who are kidnapped with a high possibility of never being found. This needs to come to an end. We cannot do it without the help of the government, men and the world- because the issues of femicide and GBV are issues circulating the world. While we find a way to make a difference, I know the statistics only climb higher the longer we take…