Hundreds of protesters blocked the entrance to the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town as the event got under way on Wednesday.
The demonstration was triggered by the murder last week of 19-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana — one of the regular incidents of femicide in a nation notorious for its grim crime statistics. A woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa, according to South African Police Service data.
The killing of Mrwetyana, who was raped and bludgeoned to death at a post office in an upmarket suburb of Cape Town, followed the murder of champion boxer Leighandre Jegels, 25, who was allegedly shot by an ex-boyfriend who had a restraining order against him. Before that, there was Meghan Cremer, an avid horse rider who was allegedly killed by three men as she left her farm outside of Cape Town.
More than a thousand people were involved in the protest, bearing placards including one that simply said: “Stop Killing Us.” On Twitter and Facebook, women called for action and suggested ideas including carrying pepper spray and taking self-defence classes, to imposing a curfew on men.
With the country also suffering a spate of deadly xenophobic attacks in its economic hub, Johannesburg, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa took to Twitter on Tuesday night and, in more than a dozen Tweets, implored citizens to help battle the scourge of violence and femicide.
Together in communities, we came together to say NO MORE- FREEDOM IN OUR LIFETIME. Similarly we need to be coming together to say NO MORE – we will build homes, communities, schools, work places, public spaces and a country in which womxn are and feel safe.
— Cyril Ramaphosa
The word “womxn” has been used recently by gender activists to denote transgender women, women of colour and as a rejection of the word “women” being derived from, or lesser than, “men.”
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