Three years ago I made a presentation titled, “Gender based violence: What causes it?” I was then a final year student at the University of Venda. So much has happen since then. A woman has been raped in Khayelitsha because she was a lesbian, a gang rape has occurred in Soweto and a parolee has sexually violated a 94 year old woman. In a country where one person is sexually violated every four minutes those examples are a drop in an ocean. All those examples were headlines; the nation seethed with anger, the Presidency condemned such acts and we vowed to stop such scourge. After that we didn’t only failed the victims, perpetrators but also ourselves.
What makes a person to be a rapist, murderer or thief? I can only guess but what I do know is that our society is characterised by broken homes. Homes where kids are breadwinners, violence is practised and proper values are not instilled in children’s or adults. Our community have people who marry 13 Year Olds, People who seek solace in alcohol and those who are so poor that they do not feature in any economic class. Truth is we send our children’s to schools where its normal for teachers to date a pupil and kids who acts as gangsters literally receive standing ovations. Poor communities are hit worst by the socio-economic standing.
I absolutely believe all the social ills we see are a clear reflection of our society. The rapists and murderers do not stay in Mars or Venus; they stay in Khayelitsha, Tembisa, Sandton and Sea Point. In simple terms they can be found in any part of our country. While it’s absolutely true that we need a thousand improvements in our correctional services and rehabilitation process it’s also true that it’s time we work for a better life for all. It’s time we find ways to teach our kids how to be human, how to dream big and at the same time providing such opportunities for them. It’s time to focus on family counselling, to use community structures such as our church and schools to disseminate messages that will positively contribute to the well-being of our kids.
The Gang Rape and Murder of 17-year-old Anine Booysen must compel us to come together and take action. We must do so not because tomorrow may be us but because we are human and humanity must prevail.
Blaming the man at the Union Building may be the easiest option but it will not help. Calling for the death penalty may be a quicker and sensible solution but it will also not help. Most sexual perpetrators are dead people walking. They have no soul. The evil perpetrators out there in the street are restrained by nothing. They have no concept of morality, no civic responsibility, no fear-nothing. It’s important to deal with the source or forces that make them violent people. It’s important to deal with our socio-economic challenges, to build communities, to offer all children’s equal opportunities, to instil humane values, to have adults who set examples and to speak less and act more.
Such acts should allow us to continue to realise that we are in this together. Because in truth it is not only the Van der Walt or the Westhuizen who get raped or attacked even the Dlamini and Ndlovu of this country. Violent crimes see no race and I just hope after all the condemning tweets, status, statements and headlines as a country we will do something. Something that will make sure that such barbaric and cowardly acts never happen.