A serious issue of rape has taken place in Ekurhuleni, South Africa.
Severe allegations that a Grade R pupil had been gang-raped by four boys have stunned Gauteng Department of Education officials, it said on Wednesday.
The department launched an investigation into the incident that reportedly took place in a classroom at Fakukhanya Primary School in Tsakane Extension 5, Ekurhuleni, last week.
The child’s mother told Journalists that the attack happened when the little boy was about to leave school. She later realised something might be wrong when he had not returned home by 14:00.
When he got home at 15:30, he reportedly told his mother four boys had undressed him and took turns raping him, with one of the boys telling him “uzoba yinja yami ye ntombazane [you will be my female dog]”.
Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department “will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those implicated”.
“We were not aware of the incident, however, our officials have already interacted with the parent and our psycho-social team will commence with the necessary counselling and support. Currently, schools are in recess, therefore, other processes can only commence upon reopening,” he added.
“We will engage with other stakeholders, such as the Teddy Bear Clinic, to ensure that implicated learners are supported.”
The mother stated that when she attempted to report the incident to the school, she was referred to the police and social workers.
She said Tsakane police refused to open a case as they reportedly do not have facilities for young children.
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele advised the woman to see the station commander.
“The police were assigned to obtain a statement and register the case for investigation. The station management will investigate the allegations raised by the mother about the police who refused to help her open the case,” he said.
According to the pupil’s mother, her son had become violent toward other children.
He also refused to go to school last week.
The rise of sexual offences in South Africa
At least 137 sexual offences are committed per day in South Africa, mainly against women, according to official figures. Earlier on the women’s minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said more than 30 women were killed by their spouses last month.
Thousands of people, including local celebrities, have taken to social media to express their anger and frustrations at the killings under the hashtags #NotInMyName #AmINext and #SAShutDown.
Two weeks ago, young and old took to the streets, women wearing chains, a symbol of how the violence has repressed South African women. Many carried placards reading: “Enough is enough”, “My body is not your crime scene” and pleading with the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to act against the violence perpetrated against women and children.
Activist Lucinda Evans addressed protesters in front of parliament, stating that the fight against gender-based violence was a 365-day process. “As a country we are in a crisis. Violence against women, children and the LGBTIQ+ is a crisis.
“I am addressing the female ministers. When are you going to hold these men accountable who have been failing us for so long?”
“If this government fails to protect us, we, as the women of South Africa, will take them to the constitutional court,” Evans yelled as the crowd cheered.
In an impromptu address to the protesters, Ramaphosa admitted that it was time his government took emergency measures to deal with the scourge of rape and the murder of women. “Enough is enough and we are going to act,” said Ramaphosa, promising to announce later on a raft of measures.
“Men that kill and rape must stay in jail for life. The law must change that once you have raped and kill you get life, no bail,” Ramaphosa told the angry crowd.
The Rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana Sparked National Outburst
On Saturday, August 24th, in the early afternoon, a nineteen-year-old University of Cape Town student named Uyinene Mrwetyana went to the post office. The precise details of what happened when she got there won’t be heard until a trial, which is scheduled for November, but police have confirmed the following: a man behind the counter told her that the credit-card machine wasn’t working, because the electricity was down, so he wouldn’t be able to process her payment. Power outages are common in South Africa, a normal part of life that you wouldn’t necessarily think twice about. The man told Mrwetyana to come back a bit later, and he’d be able to help her then. She did so, some time shortly after 2 p.m., when everyone else working at the post office had gone home. On Monday, September 2nd, a packed courtroom heard during a pre-trial hearing that the man working behind the counter had confessed to bringing Mrwetyana inside, locking the door behind her, raping her, and, when she wouldn’t stop screaming, beating her with a set of post-office scales, then putting her body in the trunk of his car, burning it, and dumping it in Khayelitsha township, near where he lived. Prosecutors said that blood was found inside the post office and on his shoe when he was arrested, the previous Friday.
The magistrate presiding over the case has ruled that the man cannot yet be identified, but his name has been widely circulated on social media, along with some of the intolerable details from his confession.
According to the most recent statistics released by the South African Police Service, a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa. The country has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, and, according to the most recent data from the World Health Organization, it ranks fourth out of a hundred and eighty-three countries when it comes to femicide, or the killing of a woman or girl on account of her gender. Every week, there is a story in South Africa that should stop us in our tracks—a newspaper report detailing what feels like a freak detonation of psychotic, demented violence against women, a one-off explosion of hate that somehow just keeps on happening.
The same magistrate who set the trial date for Mrwetyana’s self-confessed murderer also set the trial date for Rob Packham, who was recently found guilty of murdering his wife, Gill, and setting fire to her body, after a marriage-counselling session. On the Friday before Mrwetyana’s body was found, a twenty-five-year-old boxing champion, Leighandre Jegels, was shot dead by her ex-boyfriend, a policeman, while she was driving. On Tuesday, September 3rd, a man in Wyebank, in the eastern region of KwaZulu-Natal, was charged with hanging his three children and stepdaughter (aged four, six, ten, and sixteen) after being presented with divorce papers by their mother. The same day, the body of Zodwa Tyoloda, a mother of three, was found buried in a pit toilet near her home, in Qumbu, in the Eastern Cape. The previous Friday, a nineteen-year-old theology student called Jesse Hess was found raped and murdered in her home. A few hours earlier, she had won five thousand rand in a radio competition celebrating Women’s Month.
There are so many stories like these. They are all impossible to accommodate or live with, but women in South Africa do, in the absence of alternatives. There is no template for how to proceed after you have reached the conclusion that what is happening is not normal. A particularly shattering story makes the front page, and the country learns the name of another woman. Sometimes there are protests and sometimes there are not. Sometimes there are arguments about whose names are remembered and why. In a country where the victims of gender violence are overwhelmingly poor and black, pleas to “not make this about race or class” are met with varying degrees of impatience, depending on the mood. Vigils are held, national days of mourning are declared. It is widely affirmed that women should be free to wear what they like and go where they like, but at the same time it is sorrowfully acknowledged that they cannot, and so had better adjust accordingly.
Pictures and videos of Mrwetyana have also been circulating, unbearable in a different way: Mrwetyana crying with laughter as she pushes her friend’s phone out of her face; doing a pretend fashion show in her nerdy Kingswood College uniform, with its shiny red tie; smiling her head off; just being nineteen.
On Saturday, at Mrwetyana’s televised funeral, her elder brother spoke about how funny and brave she was, how she kept the rest of her family in line. He broke down when he said how hard he knew she must have fought her attacker.
Representatives for the family spoke on behalf of Mrwetyana’s parents. Her mother said she was sorry that she hadn’t been there to protect her daughter, and that, of all the places she had warned her about, the post office wasn’t one of them.