Between xenophobia and femicide, South Africa is splitting apart at the seams. Earlier today, protesters gathered outside parliament and at the first session of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town.
Protest signs called on men, the President and the country to “share our burden” and “stop killing us” as South Africans took to the street in memory of 19-year Uyinene Mrwetyana.
The first year UCT student was raped and murdered last week after the accused, a SAPO employee, lured her into the Clareinch Post Office.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed that the 42-year-old employee was arrested and charged with murder after he confessed to killing the student.
He appeared in court on Tuesday. National Prosecuting Authority spokesman in the Western Cape, Eric Ntabazalila, said the man attacked Mrwetyana after she returned to the post office on his advice.
Vice-Chancellor at UCT, Mamokgethi Phakeng, said it was even more distressing that Mrwetyana’s murder was one of many where women and girls are ripped from communities in a violent manner.
“It is important that as a community we recognise this moment for what it is. A devastating incident of gender-based violence which is utterly unacceptable, shocking, criminal and should never, ever occur in our community or in our society.”
Vice-Chancellor at UCT, Mamokgethi Phakeng
UCT suspended academic activities to mourn Mrwetyana, but mourning is not enough. South African women are tired; South African women have had enough.
Speaking to Times Live, student Emily Shay said “it’s time for total shutdown.” She added:
“It was Women’s Month [in August], but it was a bloody nightmare.”
Earlier this week, the South African Government caused an uproar when they insinuated in a tweet that “women should not allow themselves to become victims.”
The tweet has since been deleted but the damage has been done, and it’s time we change the narrative. Describing women as “victims” if they fall prey to discrimination and violence is part of the problem
Example, it’s not: “In South Africa, a woman is murdered every four hours”. The correct phrasing should be: “In South Africa, men kill women every four hours.”
“[The accused] is not an animal. He is not the devil incarnate. He is a man. Say it. A man. Let’s stop this thing of using figures of speech to strip accountability from men. He is a man.”
Also read – Apps to help keep South African women safe