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Fighting rape in South Africa's 'broken system'

February 13th, 2013
04:29 PM ET

By Samuel Burke & Claire Calzonetti, CNN

The brutal rape, mutilation and eventual death of a 17-year-old girl in South Africa could be a watershed moment for the country, opposition leader Lindiwe Mazibuko told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

Mazibuko is a Member of Parliament, and one of South Africa's loudest voices calling for change.

“It’s taken this kind of heinous act for the government to actually stand up and say we need to do something about this,” Mazibuko said. “So, on some level it’s clear enough hasn’t been done.”

The shocking rape, which occurred on February 1, two hours outside of Cape Town, has brought the issue of sexual violence to the fore and enraged the nation.

President Jacob Zuma has called for the harshest penalties for the perpetrators. Many South Africans are expecting Zuma to address the country’s calls for cultural change in his upcoming yearly address.

RELATED: Meet the woman fighting rape in India’s old boys club

Some 70% of South African women report being victims of sexual abuse.

Mazibuko says South Africa needs more oversight of the police, and investigations when the criminal justice system fails.

A lack of jobs and education are feed-in factors, according to Mazibuko.

“Young men,” she said, “who feel emasculated in a country where they can’t work, where they can’t feel like they are validated by some type of economic activity, become susceptible to situation where a woman becomes a punching bag for them to take out their frustrations on.”

She also says there must be a change in South African culture and that the country must partake in a national dialogue on sexual violence.

“We need to deal with the fact we live in a society where there is an unequal relationship between men and women,” Mazibuko said. “To the extent that men feel like women are their possessions with which they can do whatever they like, and it starts in seemingly small ways.”

In the video above you can watch her discussion with Christiane Amanpour about combating sexual violence in South Africa.

READ MORE: Teen's killing outrages South Africa

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Sexual Assault • South Africa
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Funny dudddeee

    Communist till you are rich
    Feminist till you get married
    Atheist till the plane starts falling

    February 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Reply
    • Mick G

      u just dont understand fly into a country for 2 days and do an interview

      February 14, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
  2. ym

    Great interview. She speaks really well.

    February 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  3. Henward

    When animals are voted in, then the people who voted them in are probably animals too.

    February 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  4. John

    There are two cultures in South Africa. The one black and mainly African, and the other white and mainly western.

    The black African culture is the majority, and the white western culture is a very small minority.

    To say rape is a problem of males in South Africa might be the politically correct thing to say, but when you're looking fo solutions a half lie is not going to solve it.

    The rape problem is South Africa has a colour and it's black. Not because of race, but because of African culture where the woman is seen as a commodity. Now if you think it's bad in western culture, then you got no idea of the situation what African culture is concerned.

    African culture needs to adapt to western culture in South Africa. THAT, is the solution!

    February 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply
    • Sherry Woods

      Well said John. I am South African and your comments are right on the mark.

      February 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Reply
    • Proud2BSA

      Very true John, but then we have a president that has how many wives? had charges of rape himself? how will woman and children ever have respect if our leaders dont respect it.

      February 14, 2013 at 5:17 am | Reply
  5. Heather Starbuck

    This "outrage" is nothing but another storm in a teacup.. not to detract from the brutality of this incident... but who recalls the incidence of baby rape not too long ago..does anyone recall where it happened? What was that babys' name? What happend to that "Outrage"??? Seems to me it was just deferred to Bredasdorp.. wonder where it will surface next .. and who will even remember where Bredasdorp is at that time???

    February 14, 2013 at 12:31 am | Reply
  6. Lian

    Well , the programme on History Channel called " Miracle Rising" stands in stark contrast to the term " Broken System" when we see the brutal assault on ordinary citizens who just want to carry on with their lives . I think the time for words is over and we need action from the government to stop this . We welcome the random police checkpoints which servers as a deterrent of some sort , but are these random police checkpoints executed nationwide ?

    February 14, 2013 at 1:54 am | Reply
  7. Onno Legare

    I am not perfect. I trespass. But such brutality snuffs joy out of life, just reading this stories depresses, angers, traumatises. Makes one wish the world could end today. Just by reading this story with all its palpable devilishness makes me wonder what can we do. Certainly the Devil/evil spirit should be killed. As for the people i wonder if they should be castrated, given life sentences or be killed. WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT THE INCREASING NUMBER OF YOUNGMEN WHO TERRORISE THEIR COMMUNITIES SO DEVILISHLY? SOME OF THEM ABUSED AND WITHOUT A SOUND MORAL COMPASS FROM CHILDHOOD.

    February 14, 2013 at 2:46 am | Reply
    • Mick G

      What do u expect from poor people

      February 14, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • Mark Prange

      Respond to rape with forensics, gunfire, and hanging.

      January 8, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  8. Onno Legare

    Sherry and John indeed its true this sickness mainly afflicts black communities in South Africa. What do you reckon are the causes, because you look at countries like Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, and even Zimbabwe, yes Zimbabwe, there ain't a crisis of rape even unheard off in some of their communities. S/Afica, DRC is bad news, so are the following but to a limited extent, Sudan and some isolated hotspots of conflict. SA and DRC i won't be surprised if foreign women stop visiting your country, or your women flee to safer ground. PEOPLE RAPE IS A LIFETIME TRAUMA, STOP KILLING PEOPLE BY RAPING THEM!!!

    February 14, 2013 at 3:00 am | Reply
  9. Nomfundo

    As a young South African female, all you want is to feel safe and secured wherever you are. In the past year May 2012 my family and I went through the same tragedy when my aunt, a high school teacher was kidnapped and never returned home only for her body to be discovered mutilated and abandoned.
    Our family was torn at the thought of how ruthless people are and how we can never fully recover once we've found closure.
    I fully agree with MP Lindiwe Mazibuko says "South Africa needs more oversight of the police, and investigations when the criminal justice system fails".

    We cannot rest until we know who is responsible for this. And there must be a system that protects and resolves these issues when our police fail to do so.

    February 14, 2013 at 3:09 am | Reply
    • Proud2BSA

      How tragic, my condolences to you and your family.

      February 14, 2013 at 5:19 am | Reply
  10. raj

    the common reasons why this happens are imbalanced ratio between the gender which adds to the frustration and result into these henious crimes second is the quality of life a person have in the socitey with a good job good family these very well can be reduced third kids need to be taught from school to respect and finally capital punshments which acts as a detterent before someone even think to do this... we say we are socialised.. not sure how much...

    February 14, 2013 at 3:44 am | Reply
    • Proud2BSA

      I really dont see how "jobs" stop men from raping. Nice thought but not plausible there are children raping other children in this country where do you think they learnt that? and why dont they think it wrong........

      February 14, 2013 at 5:22 am | Reply
      • raj

        true dude kids have evolved over the period a teen a decade before is different than the teens of today we have social and technological changes impacting our very own life media games play a vital role as the kids grow and see in and around impacts the behaviour they are not shy nor afraid to try something new and daring hope a good education in school must bring changes exceptions will be there but when you read the news daily thats the problem... you been in that country must know the pulse and people interpretations better... this crime is getting global though...

        February 15, 2013 at 2:58 am |
  11. Onno Legare

    @raj i don't think the gender ratio is imbalanced in SA. Places like India and China yes

    February 14, 2013 at 4:25 am | Reply
    • raj

      You are right but thats one of the point which may lead to these type of crimes moreover its getting as a global problem no matter its a developed nation or a developing nation lot of work need to be done to improve the very security of the country people in their own country....

      February 15, 2013 at 3:01 am | Reply
  12. Theresa

    we as african women liveing in norway have that same problem they take our kids take alway some of them rap by the peolpe they give them to,

    Hello my name is Theresa Togbah from liberia but live in norway

    my 4years old daughter where takein alway from me by the norwegian Child Welfare end i have not seeing her for 2years now i do not know if she alife or not i ask for picture or to see her end they will not let me to,i`m not the only african women that have this problem in norway with in year they have take so any kids from the mother i will like cnn to please help the african women in norwoy to get our story out to the world

    February 14, 2013 at 7:30 am | Reply
    • Mick G

      Yes probablky because u didnt look after your child

      February 14, 2013 at 10:26 am | Reply
  13. Monica Clarke

    Oh Lord! 85% of our safety is in our own hands. SELF-DEFENCE is guaranteed to reduce rape by up to 30%.

    In Kenya 1 million women and children have been taught how to fight and get away, among them a girl of 6, a 15 year old who got away from 3 men with guns and a 60 year old woman who fought off an attacker.

    Kenyan trainers will come to SA to train us FOR FREE. I have collected money for their air fares. All we need is help to support a three week training programme, which will teach thousands of women and children within a few hours how to fight, get away and report. This is not judo, nor karate. It is knowing how to fight dirty to get away and report. It works!

    Please, if you want to stop this evil wave of violence against our women and children, work with us.

    This training can be the turning point of rape in our country.

    This is not an appeal for money. It is a shout for us to work together to make the world sit up and notice.
    I PROTECT ME project

    February 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  14. Onno Legare

    Nice idea Monica. The girl child should be taught to fight, real fighters they should be made, in spirit, soul and flesh.

    February 15, 2013 at 3:17 am | Reply
  15. Why should i o it

    Thanks for the great article.. Why should i o it

    February 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  16. Angel008

    Well spoken Lindiwe Mazibuko – Wishing you all the best as you stand up for all women in South Africa!

    February 21, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Reply
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