In Cape Town thousands of protesters marched under the "We Say Enough" banner against violent crime in the country. South Africa has a very high rate of murders, assaults, rapes (adult, child and infant), and other crimes compared to most countries.
Cape Town marchers: "We Say Enough" to SA violence
DATE: 20 FEBRUARY 2013
CAPE TOWN---In a united protest march against the state of violent crime in South Africa, students and staff at the University of Cape Town (UCT) say they won't feel safe until something profound happens to decrease crime. Thousands of students dressed in white marched alongside staff in formal academic gowns in the "We Say Enough" march on Wednesday 20 February. Marchers expressed outrage especially towards violence committed against women and children. Last week, model and local celebrity Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by her famous "Blade Runner" boyfriend Oscar Pistorius in the early morning hours of Valentine's Day. With the international spotlight focused on the celebrity case, Pretorius is currently applying for bail in Pretoria on a schedule 6 offence of premeditated murder.
In the past month, the Western Cape has been shocked senseless by the brutal gang-rapings and murders of young women. Despite being thousands of miles apart, in two separate countries, the fate of Anene Booysen, a 17-year-old from the small farming town of Bredasdorp mirrors the horrifying experience of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi. Both women died after being gang-raped, mutilated and disembowelled by their attackers. Pandey's rape-murder spurred an entire nation to rise up in protest against the way Indian women are being violated. Protests like UCT's "We Say Enough" are also trying to feed a groundswell of righteous anger to address what many South Africans see as a gross lack of empathy and effective response by President Jacob Zuma's government.
Academics led by vice-chancellor Max Price, and Guy Lamb, director of UCT's safety and violence initiative, stood with colleagues on the iconic Jameson Steps holding up posters with images of staff and students murdered in recent years. As Price and Lamb wrote in a recent news article: "Repeated protest and outrage against these vile crimes is important – we should never allow ourselves to become inured to these atrocities just because they are so common. But if we are to do more than vent our anger and disgust, we must focus on concrete actions – one intervention at a time."
According to its website, a total of 25 500 students enrolled at UCT in the first half of 2012. Of these, one-third enrolled for a postgraduate qualification. More than 4 600 international students from over 100 countries study at UCT. Over half of these are from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). UCT employs more than 5 000 staff across six faculties. Unfortunately, this academic community also reflects the unenviable state of violent crime in South Africa.
In January 2013, Bayanda Baba, a business science student, was fatally shot during an attempted robbery while waiting for a bus in Gugulethu, a Cape Town township. In November 2010, Gail Benting, a nurse with UCT’s SA Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative, was strangled to death outside Robertson, a small Western Cape farming town. In January 2010, student Dominic Giddy died of stab wounds received during a robbery attempt near his student home in Observatory, a nearby suburb popular with UCT students. In September 2009, first-year medical student Benny Pakiso Maqobane was shot dead, also in Observatory. Science education professor, Kevin Rochford, was shot in his driveway in Little Mowbray in April 2008. Commercial law professor, Mike Larkin, was murdered in Rondebosch in November 2007, while walking home in broad daylight with a bag full of examination scripts.