Citizens want change. On Wednesday, September 5, more than 1,000 protesters gathered outside South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town and marched to the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) where the World Economic Forum (WEF) was being held.
The protesters demanded that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa take action amid a growing crisis of violence against women. Frustrated, protesters, most of whom were women, started to block the streets in the city. The police used stun grenades to disperse them. Eleven protesters – eight women and three men – were arrested.
Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old first-year student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) went to the local post office on August 24 to collect a parcel. At first, she was turned away and told to come back later as the electricity was out.
When she later returned, she was attacked by the same employee who turned her away. She was raped, bludgeoned with a scale, and murdered. On September 2, the 42-year-old employee was arrested. He confessed in court to her rape and murder.
After Mrwetyana’s murder, the rage of women across South Africa could be felt. Online, the hashtag #AmINext started to trend, with women sharing their experiences of harassment and sexual assault. Anonymously, details, including the names of alleged rapists, were shared online, contributing to the nationwide anger.
“The nation is in deep mourning. We are all deeply disturbed by the killing of women,” said Ramaphosa during a WEF keynote address held early on Wednesday. He said it was unfortunate the meeting took place amid such horrible news.
Ramaphosa said the government would recommit itself to do everything in its power to make sure those accused were arrested and dealt with.
Data released by the South African Police Service shows that 20,336 people were murdered in the year 2017-2018, 2,930 of the victims were women.
The statistics indicate a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa.
The killing of Mrwetyana followed that of champion boxer Leighandre Jegels, 25, who was shot by a former boyfriend against whom she had a restraining order. Before that was the murder of Meghan Cremer, a horse rider who was killed by three men as she left her farm on the outskirts of Cape Town.