Public outcry against recent cases of gender based violence

Karabo Mokoena’s body was found burned beyond recognition in the veld in Johannesburg on the 19 May after Mokoena was reported missing by her family on 28 April. A few days later her boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe was arrested and charged for her murder.

As the story has unfolded, details of the gruesome crime were released to the public and outrage grew towards Mantsoe, some members of his family, who are alleged to have helped him dispose of Karabo’s body and clean up the scene of the murder, and the police, who are reported to have turned Mokoena away when she tried to press charges of assault against Mantsoe earlier this year.

What was most disturbing was the many, many other similar stories of abuses, rapes, kidnappings, human trafficking and murders of women and children that began to get wider media coverage, largely due to the numerous missing persons alerts and the hashtag #MenAreTrash that began to trend. The public’s outrage on social media, on established media platforms and in the streets was directed towards the generalised and normalised nature of violence inflicted by men on women and children in South African society.

On 20 May, hundreds of men and women marched under the banner #NotInMyName, against the killing of women in South Africa. Marchers started at Church Square in Pretoria and proceeded to the Union Building.

Femicides and gender based violence is not limited to situations of intimate relationships between men and women. Many women have been raped and murdered by men for being part of the LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, and Queer) community. Karibu! interviewed Lerato Phalakatshela, Hate Crime Manager at OUT LGBTI Well-being an LGBTI organisation that is situated in Pretoria, and spokesperson for the Love Not Hate Campaign.

“We have had cases where LGBT people have tried to report crimes to different police stations across the country and were turned away by police officers,” said Phalakatshela. “The cases that have been selected by the Love Not Hate national campaign illustrate severe lapses in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to LGBTI people,” he said. “But it is not only the criminal justice system failing these victims of hate, but so too are the structures initiated by government to tackle this scourge”. According to Phalakatshela, on 30 May from 7:30am, activists will picket in Hatfield, Pretoria demanding that the lives of LGBT people be taken seriously.

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