South Africa, Durban – 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is to be observed on the 25th of this month, the recent mutilation and killing of three KZN women was a reminder that the fight against gender-based violence was far from over.
Last week Sunday, the body of a 19-year-old woman with her heart ripped out, intestines scattered around her, liver placed above her head, eyes gouged out, and head almost decapitated was found lying face down on a pathway at Woody Glen.
Sinegugu Linda left home two weeks ago and was visiting her boyfriend when she was found dead.
A few kilometres from the Linda family home, Busiswa Hlongwane was mourning the death of her 33-year-old daughter, Bongiwe Hlongwane who was stabbed, gagged, and had her private parts cut out earlier this month.
Another family in the Woody Glen area was awaiting to bury their daughter, Nomvuselelo Ngcobo, 31, who was found burnt beyond recognition last month and was being kept at the Pinetown mortuary until police finalise the DNA testing.
Linda’s mother Londiwe (Linda) said her daughter, who was pregnant visited her a few days before she was found dead. She said she had noticed a stab wound on her daughter’s hand and when she asked her about it, she was told that her boyfriend had stabbed her.
Londiwe said on Sunday morning five people came to her house and she immediately suspected that something had happened to her daughter.
“They told me that my daughter was murdered and that I should bring a spade and some refuse bags. I was so shocked because when a person is dead a blanket is put over them but they were asking me to bring plastic bags,” she said. “When we got there she had already been covered and I couldn’t bring myself to see her. She was butchered and we still don’t even know why.”
Londiwe said she suspected that her daughter was killed elsewhere and then dumped on the pathway.
“I want justice for her and I want to know why this was done to her. I know it won’t bring her back but someone has to be arrested for this.”
Busiswa said her daughter Bongiwe left behind three children. She said the person who mutilated her daughter’s private parts had shown deep hatred for her.
“We found her lying on her back naked, face covered and legs wide open. She also had stab wounds on her lower back. No one can tell me what happened,” she said. “My worry is about her children and we are deeply hurt by this.”
Ngcobo’s sister, Zanele (Ngcobo), said her family was still in shock and that all the family wanted was to bury Ngcobo and let her rest in peace.
We are not receiving assistance from the police, instead, the investigating officer keeps telling us to wait but it has been a month.”
Mary Makgaba, chief executive officer at People Opposing Women Abuse said alarming incidents of gender-based violence particularly femicide were worrisome. She said ritual killings are emerging and the vulnerable groups were at a higher risk of becoming victims.
“The South African justice system gives more rights to accused persons than victims. Patriarchal attitudes are perpetuating men to devalue and disrespect women. As women we are all fearful of our lives, we feel hopeless and helpless and have no place to run to,” said Makgaba.
Tina Thiart, a co-founder and trustee of 1 000 Women, a non-profit organisation that creates awareness and organises safe spaces for women, said boys need to be educated.
“Our girls have more chances of being raped than learning to read. Sickeningly, from babies and children to young girls and elderly women, all women are targets for rape, abuse, and murder. Something needs to be done.”