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What's wrong with some SA men

17 February 2013, 18:26
I few weeks back a 21 year old boy killed his girlfriend, helped by a couple of friends. The boy allegedly cut open the woman's stomach and pulled out her intestines, leaving them strewn on the ground. The girl managed to survive long enough to be able to identify her attacker.

In my Shona culture anybody below mid-20s, or older but not married is, also considered a boy.

Both the killers and the victim lived in a poor downtrodden suburb of a Western Cape town. One is therefore very much tempted to think that the violence was a function of the poverty.

However just this week, any such notions, were quickly blown away like a Sahara mirage in a sandstorm. Two of the most popular and wealthiest people in South Africa were involved in a fatal incident that according to some reports has connotations of domestic violence.

Oscar Pistorious an internationally renown sportsman shot his girlfriend, an equally well known model. It is the South African equivalent of Brad shooting Angelina, or David shooting Victoria.

Oscar says he mistook her for a burglar. Neighbours claim there had been audible arguing in residence and before the shooting, so much that police had to be called. It does not help that Reeva Steenkamp is no longer alive to tell her side of the story.

The press is also awash with claims that Oscar was temperamental and aggressive.

I am no Imam or Cardinal Bishop but I am not a particular fan of FHM and similar magazines either. So until after her death the name Reeva Steenkamp would not have aroused any inkling in me.

However after reading reports that her skull had been crushed and a bloodied cricket bat was also found in residence, I couldn't help feeling as if my own sister had been mercilessly butchered.

Why? Why? Why? What is wrong with some South African men's psyche towards their women? One cannot help but wonder.

It appears as if South African women are treated as objects, expected to do whatever the men want. If these objects do not fulfil the desired function they not only discarded but destroyed - cruelly.

If a woman is unwilling to do something there is no attempt to persuade. She is also not left alone. What is desired by the man is violently taken. The violence is typically carried out using lethal weapons.

It was St Valentine's day. We should have been giggling over gossip about roses and chocolates. Here we are, riveted accounts of by guns, cricket bats and crushed skulls. It is so sad.

I am a Zimbabwean and will not claim that my culture is a paragon of civility and domestic tolerance. Husbands, wives and lovers do fight, but not with guns, knives, broken bottles and cricket bats.

One of the major grievances leading to the xenophobic pogrom of 2008 was that foreign men took, not only jobs, but women as well. Given the way some South African men treat their women, it is not surprising that many rush into the arms of men whose culture and upbringing is not so gratuitously violent towards women.

My advice to some South African men is that aggressiveness is not a mark of manhood. It is often a sign of deep seated insecurity and weakness. People afflicted by inner weaknesses often try to compensate by showing aggressive physical strength.

Certainly, South Africa as a country needs much less of this kind of publicity. Already the tag 'rape capital of the world' is bad enough. It is not surprising that some foreigners, like Ani Dewani alleged to arranged the murder of his wife in South Africa, may have thought South Africa is just the perfect country to get away with domestic violence.

That is not a nice thing to have people thinking about a country. Given the events of the past few weeks, one woman's stomach slit open, another one's head crushed, allegedly, with a cricket bat, it is difficult to see how South Africa is going to get rid of that notion.

Certainly this cannot be blamed on apartheid. One couple was black and poor, but the other was white and wealthy.

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