Rape at UCT, inadequate response by SAPS & UCT

S1000007.JPGDuring a period of less than several consecutive weeks there were reports of violent sexual assault in and around the University of Cape Town (UCT) every month from November 2015 to March 2016. Most of the incidences occurred around the Rhodes Memorial Area and one was reported having occurred on campus at UCT.  Where the university sent a series of alert e-mails to students and reported the events to the police. #RhodesMustFall students took it upon themselves, on 9 February 2016, to have a peaceful protest from UCT campus to the police station against the inadequate protection of women against sexual violence and rape in the community of UCT (see link: https://www.facebook.com/events/242725826072123/).  During which one of the protestors, a trans-woman, HeJin Kim said: “Let it be known that at UCT being a black female student means you’re unsafe.”

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On 17 November 2015 the University of Cape Town issued an e-mail stating the following:

“UCT is aware of and has responded to the allegations of an alleged sexual assault/rape in a building on its campus early on Monday, 16 November 2015. We have activated the necessary support services to assist those involved in the incident. A charge has been laid with the police.”

Additionally during the week before commencement of lectures on 23 January another e-mail was sent to UCT students of a similar nature saying:

“A female student has reported that she was raped off campus near the Rhodes Memorial restaurant on Tuesday 19 January 2016 by an unidentified man…this incident follows a similar incident on 11 December 2015 when another female student reported that she was attacked and raped by an unidentified man when she walked from Rhodes Memorial towards UCT. This incident was reported to the UCT campus community at the time…The South African Police Services (SAPS) are investigating both cases.”

Furthermore on 5 February 2016 another e-mail informing students about another incident that read:

“…another female University of Cape Town student has been sexually assaulted while walking on the mountain towards Rhodes Memorial. This attack took place on Thursday night, 4 February 2016. It was reported to UCT’s Campus Protection Services (CPS) this morning by the SA Police Service (SAPS)…The student crossed the M3 bridge near Rhodes Avenue yesterday at about 18h00 and proceeded uphill towards Rhodes Memorial. On her way back at about 20h00 she was attacked and dragged into the bushes and raped repeatedly. She was eventually released at about 01h00 today, and she went to the SAPS. They are now investigating the case.”

UCT alerted students and informed them of the remedial actions against sexual violence that in collaboration with SAPS were taking place. However, nothing to curb the events of reoccurring rape in and around the vicinity of the university were being made. There were only provisions of counselling and alerts incorporated with the e-mails of reassurance. That advised students to:

  • Be vigilant
  • Avoid the Rhodes Memorial area
  • Avoid walking alone at night

Despite the advice and collaborative efforts between SAPS and UCT to find the assailant-rapist. There was another incident on Tuesday evening, 8 March 2016. UCT sent out another e-mail reassuring the students they are doing everything in their power to provide counselling for the victim and assist SAPS with their investigation.

A suspect was arrested by SAPS in connection with rape incidences where according to a UCT e-mail update was apprehended “on the morning of Saturday, 12 March 2016, on Table Mountain. He appeared in Wynberg Court on Monday and the case was postponed until Friday, 18 March 2016. He remains in police custody.”

 

Strong emphasis was placed on students to take precautions when moving around or on campus. Without surveillance (by UCT or SAPS) of the affected areas where the attacks occurred. Ultimately, the students had to apply the necessary pressure to confront the issues of ineffective measures of protection. Protest action by the students was aimed at the police and university to utilize immediate and effective response to the full extent of the law to apprehend the assailant.Currently, the #Rhodesmustfall female students created a protest art, homage to rape survivours, of t-shirts with anti-rape phrases on clothes hanging on clothing lines across upper campus at UCT.

 

Sources

https://www.enca.com/south-africa/uct-alleged-rapist-arrested

http://www.myuct.ac.za/

http://rhodesmustfall.co.za/

https://twitter.com/uct_pmf

https://uctsurvivors.wordpress.com/

 

Images:

captured by author i.e. blogger

 

 

 

 

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“Our selective mourning is just as horrific and heartbreaking as both these tragedies are.”

SELECTIVE GRIEVING

 

The title of this post, was the caption to a link about recent teen murders in Cape Town that I noticed on my Facebook Newsfeed. As a survivor of sexual assault it struck a nerve.

The above images are that of Sonoxola Mafevuka from Khaylitsha  (on the left) and Franziska Blöchliger from Tokai Forest on the right.

Khaylistha is a Cape Town township according to  Infrastructure News (see link:http://www.infrastructurene.ws/tag/khayelitsha/) has poor infrastructure in terms of  inadequate unsafe roads, poor waste disposal and sanitation services. Basically, a typical township with insufficient services and unreliable municipal delivery. Although recently there was installation of communal outdoor toilets for the community members of Khayelitsha. Sonoxolo Mafevuka’s body was found half naked in one of these communal toilets 1 March 2016. According to the IOL News & News24 the cause of death has yet to be confirmed. However,  a community leader named  Colin Nomatiti is quoted saying  ‘he believes she was dragged to the toilet on Tuesday night, where she was raped and killed’.

This is a complete contrast to Tokia a surburban area in Constantiaberg in Cape Town. Where each house has an indoor lavatory and security keeping the residential area safe. Unfortunately, Franziska went missing outside of this space on 10 March 2016. However, a day later there was an all out manhunt for Franziska. Where her murderers were apprehended 11 March 2016.

Sonoxolo’s murderers were only arrested 14 March 2016. Even so the community had to put additional pressure through protests and enquiry by the local police station.

Both murders were tragic  and unfortunate. However, what was even more unfortunate and tragic was the different responses to each of the incidences. Where in the case of Tokai there was immediate reaction for justice on part of the police but a much delayed approach in the context of Khayelitsha. Basically an upheld memory of late Franziska worthy of punishment to the full extent of the law against perpetrators and a dismissed if not absent one of Sonoxolo.

One of the community residents at Khayelitsha was even quoted as saying : “We are black therefore no one cares about us.”

I know you’re thinking ‘it can’t always be about race guys teenagers were murdered’. I understand the retort however let us unpack the quote.

Townships are a legacy of Apartheid where during the Group Areas Act of 1950 people of colour that used to live in decent residential areas were forcefully relocated to make space for white South Africans. Black people were allocated in areas called Bantustans and black people working in urban areas were allocated into townships that were on the far outskirts of exclusively white residential areas.

To this day, black people in urban areas, not all, but the majority still occupy the townships that were & still are underdeveloped. Albeit with historical implications townships are still predominantly “black areas”. Where most of the residents (if not all) are part of poor working class communities. The issue of blackness not mattering in addition to historical contexts also includes the inextricable influences of socio-economic class. Poverty, which is predominant in the townships means limited and lack of resources. Even with poor service delivery it is difficult to protest that issue in debt, on an empty stomach or constant fear of violent intimidation from perpetrators if you speak out against criminals & the heinous crimes they commit. Not to mention corruption within local municipality that sometimes misuses funds for personal benefit at the expense of a underdeveloped community.

Communities of Tokai have resources and residences have access where their complaints carry weight on account of their affluent socio-economic status. ‘Not true’ is what you might think. Well, Franziska’s father offered R100 000 cash as reward for anyone who knew where her daughter was. Granted it was his daughter’s life at stake and he was more than justified to use all measures necessary to find her. However, what happens to individuals that do not have R100 000 on hand to find lost loved ones or bring to justice those that murdered them.

Do those individuals have to continue to live in fear of something similar happening again?

Must a lack of substantial monetary incentive be cause for the police not to do their jobs and protect ALL South African communities?

That aside there was endless media coverage on the radio, television, newspapers (online & otherwise) providing updates on Franziska.  rape case

With little to no news coverage of Sonoxolo. The community of Constantiaberg showed up to court in their numbers to show support at the hearing .

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I have witnessed the country grieving a single teenage life and neglecting the other. Both were deserving of  outcry against rape and violence suffered by women and children from any part of South Africa. Be it township or surburbia South Africans should examine their selective mourning and what it means for any teenager to be abused in any context. Sonoxolo and her parents should have also been made visible in their grief as well.

I am in no means comparing scars but emphasizing that both deaths should have had equal media coverage and national outrage regardless of where they were from.

May Sonoxolo and Franziska rest in peace. South Africa has to do a better job at protecting its female population. PERIOD.

It is also imperative that  as South Africans we realize that crime affects everyone across all categories of class, race, gender as well as sexuality  and that it is not just a ‘township thing’. We all deserve to have our stories told and heard, let us listen to each other more. Grieve all life lost that had potential regardless of identity politics.

Make it your mission to educate yourself read more and question the systems that fail you.

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Sources

http://www.infrastructurene.ws/tag/khayelitsha/

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/i-want-see-those-accused-of-doing-this-father-of-murdered-tokai-teen-20160428

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/live-suspects-in-court-for-tokai-killing-20160311

http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/details-of-tokai-murder-revealed-2015525

Two arrested for the rape, murder of Sinoxolo MafevukaThe Khayelitsha teen’s body was discovered in communal toilets two weeks ago.

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It is not your body, therefore not your problem.

On 8 March 2016 was International Women’s Day. A day dedicated to the celebration of various and diverse identities of women. In an endeavour to wish my contemporaries a happy Women’s day via social media, using twitter, I noticed a Kim Kardashian censored nude ‘selfie’ in my news feed. As seen below:

kim nude

In true Twitter fashion millions of fans and critics reposted and commented mostly with disapprovement of the image. Among the disapproving comments were world renouned women of celebrity status that included the following:

  • Bette Midler, who (according to biography.com)is an American  singer-songwriterresponse to kim k nude
  • Chloë Moretz according to my analysis of her Twitter bio seems to be a famous actress and occassional , covergirl.Chloe
  • Pink is a world renouned singer-songwriter of punk rock music and ballads.pink tweet

Now here they are respectively…

bette midler nakedchloe nylon

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The above images of Bette Midler, Chloë Moretz and Pink all exhibit elements of nudity through the selective exposure of their bodies. The only difference between the ‘Kim K celebrity critics’ and the actual Kim Kardashian nude selfie is that she used actual horizontal censor bars for her privates instead of having strategically placed pieces of clothing.

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The negative exchange among these women is  what academic Kimberle Crenshaw referred to as ‘the virgin Madonna-versus- whore dichotomy’. In Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality and rape culture she explores issues around a female being a victim of rape worthy of justice depending on her sexual chastity or lack thereof.  Crenshaw describes ‘the virgin Madonna’ as the modest female with little to no sexual experiences and the ‘whore’ as the sexually promiscuous female that exposes her body.

Herein lies the duplicitous double standard of female sexuality. Where participation in subtle or explicit nudity is deemed ‘acceptable’ for certain women i.e. the ‘modest’ women but not for sexually alternative women.Upon expansion… Granted, Kim Kardashian’s debut was that of a sex tape hence her ‘sexual alternativeness’ HOWEVER instead of  becoming the said ‘modest’ or ‘acceptable woman’ to avoid the ‘whore’ label. There are various moments of her celebrity repertoire, in the entertainment industry, where she reclaims that aspect of her identity as a sexual being. More than nudity I think owning your truth as a woman is more empowering and impactful than denial. Bette Midler, Chloë Moretz and Pink are also entertainers that during different times in their careers exploited the very thing that they are critcizing.

Can somebody say: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

As a woman I feel unconstructive criticism of certain women and praising of others is counter-productive and regressive in the greater scheme of ‘women empowerment’ and unified resistance against the policing of the female body.

Chloë Moretz as an adolescent, young woman, who so happens to be a celebrity and has never birthed a baby  does not even begin to qualify in giving a mother of 2 and wife advice about “setting goals for young women”. You are the young woman dear, be the “example” you are looking for if Kim’s example bothers you so much. More than just being a mother and wife Kim Kardashian is a businesswoman whose current networth is approximately $85 million.

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Although the phrase women empowerment’ is inclusive of all types of adult females it is in no way negating the diversity of womanhood, femininity  and unique expression thereof.

Ultimately, the crux of the matter is that as women we should disrupt and challenge the status quo of having to either ‘use our brains’ or ‘our bodies’ i.e. only being smart or sexually expressive. I mean we can be both sexy, smart and more all at the same time we are multi-faceted beings.The absence or presence of clothing on the adult female body does not take away from the accomplishments from the said female body in question. If this bothers you, remember:

this tea

Let us build one another and stop the divisiveness on the arbitary basis of “who is not wearing what” antics of slutshaming. We are a global family of women sharing the struggle of  our bodies being constantly policed and violated when we choose ‘deviant’ exposure of it. ‘Covered up’ or not choose to be part of the solution and not an addition to the problem.

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Sources

https://twitter.com

On Intersectionality: Essential Writings
Book by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw

https://www facebook.com/Feminists-United-400327940012739/?fref=ts

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