OUR VIEWPOINT: Time to reclaim our streets

2015-06-15 13:23
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THE rape of a Howick jogger early yesterday morning will strike terror into the heart of that community. But it may also galvanise them to take back their streets.

Every day women and children are raped in South Africa. The statistics are enough to overwhelm and to densensitise.

Every victim has immense value and the violence of a rape attack strikes at the core of who that person is. And every one of them deserves support no matter who they are.

When a jogging woman doctor was raped in Clarendon in 2013, that community rallied together on an awareness campaign to prevent future attacks.

Statistics released by the KwaZulu-Natal Aids Council in 2013, weeks after the Clarendon incident, show that rape is rife in the province and that victims are often girls under 12.

In five of the 11 districts in KZN, sexual assaults on children made up almost half of the new cases reported in the nine-month period on which the statistics are based.

South Africa’s high incidence of rape means that not all rapists are arrested or convicted, leaving them free to rape again.

Most concerning is how some incidents, like the snatching of a child from the street outside a busy school, goes unnoticed.

Take the case of Athandiwe Dumakude. The five-year-old Berg Street primary pupil was abducted, raped and murdered.

Officers investigating the case are struggling to make a link between her abduction and a suspect because it is as if she had simply vanished.

Her mother appealed to the public last week to help find her daughter’s killer.

In the wake of the Clarendon incident, residents like Margie Henderson said they wanted to lead normal lives again.

“We need to get together as concerned citizens to reclaim our streets, to be able to go about our lives, bearing in mind we have all this crime around us. “We can’t keep living with our heads in the sand,” said Henderson.

In response to violent crime and rape, communities will rally together to make their streets safer.

But the greater issue for those who would like to run or walk on the street without fear, is how does South Africa as a society address this national sickness?

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  rape

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