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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora