Thousands of South Africans took to the streets of Cape Town on Thursday to protest against increasing levels of gender-based violence and the government’s failure to deal with the issue.
Outrage has been sparked in the community after a spate of recent deadly attacks against women and children. August was the deadliest month for violent crimes against women South Africa has ever seen.
Dressed in black and purple in commemoration of those who have lost their lives, protesters carried signs asking ‘Am I Next?’
The hashtag #AmINext has since been spreading on social media.
The latest figures show at least 137 sexual offences are committed per day in South Africa. A woman is murdered every 3 hours. Protesters are calling for a state of national emergency to be declared.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the protesters who gathered outside parliament in Cape Town and announced the government would change the law so that men who rape and kill women would be given a life sentence.
“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 crowd. “Enough is enough and we are going to act.”
His impromptu address stopped short of declaring a state of national emergency.
Thursday’s protest was fueled by the discovery of the body of a missing 19-year-old Cape Town University student, Uyinene Mrwetyana. She had disappeared on the 24th August on her way to collect a parcel at the local post office.
A post office employee has since confessed to raping and beating her to death inside the post office, which was located next to a police station.
Rest In Peace Beautiful, gorgeous Uyinene…. Lala ngoxolo Mafu, Langa, Khuboni, Mambele…. 🌸 yours is a sad reality we wake up too & sleep knowing that It could be me #AmINext 💔💔💔😭😭😭 #RIPUyineneMrwetyana pic.twitter.com/0btsctRn8F
— Asiphe Mdingi (@asiphe_mdingi) September 3, 2019
South African boxing champion Leighandre Jegels was also shot and killed by her partner in August.
— Cape Argus (@TheCapeArgus) September 5, 2019
This morning, I joined thousands of women and men outside of Parliament to protest against the untenable levels of GBV in this country. One of the speakers concluded her speech by saying: so many women here are asking the question: #AmINext, again?
What a smack by reality 😔💔 pic.twitter.com/DZKCOjevXz
— Siviwe Gwarube (@Siviwe_G) September 5, 2019
Pamphlets were distributed at the protest in Cape Town encouraging men to attend a public meeting being held next week to help resolve the violence crisis.