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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs