With news headlines saturated with endless violence against women and children, more than 600,000 South Africans have added their voice to various petitions and many are planning to attend marches to parliament.
This follows, among others, the recent rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana at a post office, a 14-year-old girl who was found murdered in a backyard, the murder of female boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, and the kidnapping of Grade R Vanderbijlpark pupil Amy-Lee de Jager who was later returned physically unharmed.
By Tuesday afternoon, a petition to “bring Back The Death Sentence in SA For Crimes Against Women” had obtained over 382,000 signatures, while another petition calling on parliament to “declare Gender Based Violence in South Africa a State of Emergency” had more than 253,000 signatures.
Around 4,000 people had signalled their intention to attend a gender-based violence gathering at the gates of parliament on Thursday morning, organised by Fight Back SA, while 1,000 people had signed up to attend another peaceful protest outside parliament the same day (which is in collaboration with the first).
A poster with organiser or contact details, which has been circulating on social media, suggested there would also be a #notinmyname picket outside parliament on Wednesday morning.
A march to parliament on September 21, “to end Femicide in South Africa”, is expected to be attended by around 3,000 people, if the Facebook attendance register is anything to go by.
Some have suggested conducting a peaceful protest at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this week, when international leaders and business people will gather at the World Economic Forum.
There has been a steady presence of police officers in the vicinity, with four police vans and a riot vehicle parked nearby.
Others have proposed a national “shutdown” for women, when they stay at home from work and other commitments.
The violence prompted Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of United Nations Women, to take to Twitter.
She said: “The murder of #UyineneMrwetyana further remind us of the disregard of women’s life. Women of all generations are at risk as we learnt from Dr Thandi Ndlovu’s life. A national emergency must be declared.”
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba sent his deepest condolences to Mrwetyana’s loved ones as well as fellow students and staff at the University of Cape Town.
“As the father of a daughter at the same institution, I feel this loss especially painfully. Society must rally against the dreadful prevalence of violence against women and children, and the quick investigation and arrest in this case is to be commended,” he said.