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.
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 .
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.