The details of the abduction and murder of 21-year-old Hannah Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh (who survived) in May made headlines on Wednesday.
I felt sick reading the gory details of the calculated assaults, hijacking and multiple rapes of an innocent student.
The problem is, Hannah is one of thousands of young women whose lives end tragically – and yet our Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) and the Commission for Gender Equality fail to embark on effective awareness campaigns to combat the scourge against women and children.
The 16 Days of Activism achieve very little, if anything. It is a ruse for the astounding lack of imagination of the DWCPD to come up with solutions.
There are enough organisations and agencies that can help this department design a multilevel strategy to stop the violence against women.
Decades ago the United Nations produced an excellent book on violence against women in SA, with clearly spelt out recommendations of concrete actions for the police, prosecutions and the judiciary.
The Institute for Security Studies publishes crime reports, victim surveys, policing strategies, etc that frees government to get its act together and fight crimes against women with the seriousness it deserves.
The brutality of Hannah’s four attackers who deliberately went out on a rampage that night, intent on causing grievous bodily harm, I find alarming.
What goes on in the minds of young men that enable them to perpetrate such heinous crimes? How do we account for such evil? – because evil it is.
The male leadership in political parties, faith-based communities, the trade unions, civil society organisations, schools and universities need to put their heads together to send out a message condemning this kind of behaviour.
Hannah’s mother, at a loss for words, has gone to communities to try and understand the conditions that create such brutality, wanting to make a difference. Such grace also intrigues me.
I have met many parents who are so bruised by the loss of their children they lose the capacity to feel revenge.
They seem to know, as I fail to know, that vengeance exacerbates matters and cannot compensate for the loss of their children. As a society, we seem to have given up on a criminal justice system that doesn’t care.
Black Monday dedicated to the protest of farm murders was an important show of strength against the continual killings of farmers.
Women should take August 9 and demand the departments in charge of women, police, education, social development and other agencies make violence against women a high priority.
Such a campaign should also be addressed to men at every level of society and include education, awareness campaigns, and visible deterrents and punishments to stop such behaviour.
If the ANC would stop their power struggles, corruption and self-absorption, a first step would be to establish community courts in every region to mete out justice.
The courts would not only benefit victims and deal with perpetrators effectively, but will serve as an education tool and deterrent at community level for those who think that killing sprees are fun.