Church calls for united stand against rape

2013-02-11 00:00

THE Anglican Church in Southern Africa has asked all its congregations to light candles this Wednesday in memory of Anene Booysen and all other rape victims.

Anene (17) was buried at Bredasdorp in the Western Cape on Saturday, a week after she was gang-raped, disembowelled and left for dead. She died several hours after the brutal attack. Three young men have been arrested, including a former boyfriend, after she named one of her attackers. One of the men was released on Saturday because there was not enough evidence to tie him to the attack.

Bishop Rubin Phillip of Natal wrote in a message to churches that Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is a time of sorrow. The church’s message is that people should realise that anyone who does not act against violence, are themselves implicated in the crime.

Male church members are specifically requested to declare that rape may not be committed in their name, and that violence must not be allowed to continue.

Phillip said the rainbow nation is dying, bit by bit, every time a woman is raped.

In Bredasdorp on Saturday, hundreds of people packed a church for Anene’s funeral.

Among them were Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor, Tony Ehrenreich of Cosatu, Dan Plato, the Western Cape Community Safety MEC, Professor Russel Botman, the rector of the University of Stellenbosch, and representatives of the police and the local council.

The “quiet girl from Bredasdorp is now a symbol of protest against senseless violence”, said Dominee ­Arné Leuvennink, who led the service.

Botman said: “The country is in the hands of the born-frees of South Africa. We can’t lose them like [Anene].”

The region’s district mayor, Richard Mitchell, said: “We are all here because we know how women and children are treated in our communities. The world shares our sorrow. Anene’s death has turned the eyes of the world on Bredasdorp.”

But, he continued: “Her legacy has created a consciousness that violence in the country must be seriously addressed. We can’t bring her back. But we can give a voice so that such an incident never, ever happens again.”

Yesterday afternoon, a protest march in Bredasdorp that included Cosatu members, handed a memorandum to police. It said in part that “the country must unite to make war on this plague”.

Meanwhile, a few hours after the funeral, in another Western Cape town, the body of a raped and murdered 19-year-old woman was found in a cupboard.

The woman has not been identified, but a 21-year-old man, the son of the woman who lives in the flat, has been arrested. The woman was out at the time of the attack, police said.

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