A string of horrific murders of young women in South Africa has lead to rallies and protests against gender-based violence and spawned a powerful online movement in the country.
On August 24, a university student was allegedly raped and bludgeoned to death. Uyinene Mrwetyana was on an errand in Cape Town, checking on a parcel in the middle of the day when she was attacked.
Ms Mrwetyana was a first-year film and media studies at the University of Cape Town. She was 19-years-old and initially presumed missing.
According to The South African, laws prevent the media naming the murderer, although his name has been trending on social media. It is understood the man was a worker at the post office which Ms Mrwetyana visited.
The 42-year-old man has reportedly confessed to the murder and rape of Ms Mrwetyana, but this cannot be confirmed until he pleads guilty to the charges.
The alleged murderer was arrested almost a week after Ms Mrwetyana went missing.
“She wasn't drunk. She wasn't wearing anything provocative. She wasn't being a smart ass. She wasn't walking around at odd hours,” Twitter user and radio presenter, Lady Kuda tweeted.
“She merely went to collect a package at the post office, during the day. But she was still raped and killed. I give up.”
Harrowing hashtag reveals nation’s pain
According to AP News, the South African media has been dominated by headlines about the murders of several young women.
On August 30, South African boxing champion Leighandre Jegels, 25, was shot and killed by her estranged boyfriend who worked as a police officer.
The deaths have prompted women from across the nation to share their experiences and fears over being violently attacked by men on social media under the hashtag #AmINext.
South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world for women, with the world’s fourth highest death rate due to “interpersonal violence,” according to fact-checking web site Africa Check.
The group says one woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa.
“We remain gripped in an increasing crisis of violence in South Africa, underpinned by levels of impunity and a social and economic system that continues to drive gender-based violence and other forms of violence,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Twitter.
AP News reports police fired a water canon at demonstrators who gathered in Cape Town to demand the government to crack down on gender-based violence.
Police reportedly also utilised stun grenades and pepper spray on the protesters, which were predominately women, according to The Citizen.
The publication also reports five people were arrested on Thursday September 5, during the demonstrations, apparently a large group gathered outside the police station to support those arrested.
Police also arrested eight women and two men a day before, on charges of ‘public violence’.
University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, announced the university will name a scholarship after Ms Mrwetyana.
“We have made a commitment, we at UCT to not allow Uyinene’s death to just remain another statistic,” she said.
“We don’t want her just to be a number. One of the ways we will take a stand against the crime that ended her life is through establishing the Uyinene Mrwetyana scholarship for women in humanity studies.”
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