Rape video: SA media expresses outrage
Johannesburg - Most of South Africa's main newspapers were united in disgust and expressed pessimism about the country's humanity on Thursday, following the gang rape of a mentally ill girl.
Editorials reacting to the story, which broke on Wednesday, expressed sorrow for the 17-year-old, but also anger that the attack happened, and that a video had been made and was circulating in public.
On its front page, alongside the headline "A Nation's Shame", The Star newspaper wrote that South Africa's disgrace was its barbaric monsters.
"We have been united as a nation in our horror and revulsion... This episode must force us to take a serious look at ourselves and ask: How did we get here? How did we, as people, raise monsters who find a joke in this repugnant act?"
Recording ‘just plain cruel’
In her opinion piece in The Citizen, Nokuthula Sonile wrote of her heartbreak for the girl and the "scary" statistics which revealed that of 1 500 schoolchildren surveyed in Soweto, a quarter of the boys believed gang rape was fun.
"The girl is a victim of young men who failed to respect her or respect themselves. We can blame society, absent fathers or the lack of role models, but when someone decides to commit a crime and even record the act, it is just plain cruel."
The Sowetan said the incident unearthed citizens' cry for leadership at a time when many were feeling hopelessness in the face of barbarity.
"It is times like these that [we] call out for leadership, in the family, the street and indeed at national level."
Sharing the video
The collective ethos and spirit which prevailed during the struggle for democracy had been replaced by an each-man-for-himself mentality.
"It is a spirit we seem to have tossed in the dustbin of history as the pursuit of freedom was replaced by the pursuit of things material."
The newspaper also ascribed the attack to ineffective community policing forums.
While sharing the horror of the rape with its print media colleagues, The Times could not fathom the curiosity of some South Africans who wanted to see the video footage.
"This is the obscene part of this story, the idea that what happened to this girl became the source of titillation."
Echoing Proudly SA CEO Leslie Sedibe who said on Wednesday that to watch the video was "atrocious and abominable", The Times wrote: "What indeed... have we become when we become voyeurs, and to an extent third-hand witnesses, to this horrific crime? This is not the response of a compassionate, caring society."
Tabloid defends publishing girl’s photo
The New Age called the recording of the crime an indictment on society.
"Filming a sexual or any other criminal act and then sending it for the general public to view, demonstrates not just a sick perverted mind, but also that respect for the law is patently absent."
Meanwhile the Daily Sun, which helped police arrest the seven alleged school-going perpetrators, shunned criticism from "self-appointed media watchdogs".
This was after it published a picture of the girl, who was missing but has subsequently been found, on its front page. On page 2, it displayed a still image of the attack. In the still no one could clearly be identified.
"Daily Sun got the consent of the girl's mother to publish the picture, and we consulted with experts about our course of action. We had no choice but to go ahead.
"If we hadn't, NO crime would have been uncovered, NO arrests would have been made and this helpless girl... would still be missing."
It said there were exceptional circumstances at play, and while it recognised the importance of restrictions when reporting on rape victims and children, it made no apology for helping find the girl and bring the suspected attackers to justice.