News / Africa

South Africa Gang Rape Stirs Outrage, Shock

Reuters
— Hundreds of South Africans placed flowers and candles by a simple wooden cross in a building site on Friday where a dying 17-year-old gang rape victim was left to die, a murder that shocked a nation inured to sexual violence.

At the head of a procession that chanted "enough is enough" was Anene Booysen's distraught foster mother, Corlia Olivier, who recounted the moment last weekend that she saw her daughter dumped amid the gravel and grass, her stomach slit open down to her genitals. "I heard her saying 'Mommy help me, Mommy help me" and I rushed over ... and just saw her guts hanging out, Olivier told reporters, tears welling up in her eyes.     

Booysen was found by security guards lying only a short distance from her house after partying at a nearby bar on Friday evening in the sleepy town of Bredasdorp, 130 km east of Cape Town. She later died in hospital.

Like the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus last year, the incident has stirred rare outrage in a country where many people have become desensitised by some of the world's highest rates of sex crimes.

Calls for harsh penalties

President Jacob Zuma expressed "shock and outrage"', calling for the harshest possible sentences for the killers and a concerted campaign ``to end this scourge in our society''.     

South Africa has the highest number of reported rapes per head of population of any Interpol member country.     
Even when suspects are caught, only 12 percent of cases end in conviction, and sexual crimes - even in the most serious cases - seldom spark much beyond some soul-searching editorials and anguished radio phone-ins.   
The Womens' League of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is trying to mobilise the public into something akin to the mass protests against anti-female violence that broke out in India after the New Delhi attack.     
On Friday, Cape Town radio station KFM started broadcasting a "bleep"' every four minutes as a reminder to listeners that another South African woman will, on average, have just been raped.     

At the Bredasdrop building site, religious leaders and politicians linked arms with Booysen's relatives as they sang hymns and laid a wreath by the cross, adorned with a single pink ribbon.

"I still hear her footsteps," Olivier said, turning to accept a vase of flowers from an elderly couple, as a stream of well-wishers arrived to offer condolences.

Maree Louw, the commander of the local police station, said the murder was one of the worst cases she had seen in a long career. The first police officers on the scene have been receiving trauma counseling.

"The brutality and the slaughter of this young teenager is beyond belief," Louw said.

Like many towns in South Africa's Western Cape, Bredasdorp, with a population of 35,000 people, has its problems with drug and alcohol abuse but Louw said most people would go to bed at night with their back doors open and windows unlocked.     

Three attackers arrested

Booysen managed to reveal the name of one of the attackers, a family friend, before dying. Three men in their early twenties have been arrested and are expected to appear in court on Tuesday on charges of rape and murder. They face the prospect of life in prison if convicted.  Under a constitution drawn up after the end of apartheid in 1994, Nelson Mandela's "Rainbow Nation" abolished the death penalty.

Some in Bredasdorp wish that were not the case. "This crime was very sadistic and deserves the death penalty,'' said mother of three Sophia Europa. "What they did was worse than anything done to an animal."

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Zacharia
February 08, 2013 10:52 PM
Jail time cannot be EQUATED to "harshest possible sentences" where a innocent person has lost their life to such rapists and murderers. Only a death sentence can do this, a penalty which the Government abolished. Consequently "the scourge" cannot be simply ended.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid