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South Africans are Calling for the Death Penalty in Response to Violence Against Women

This comes after the horrific murder of several young South African women.

The past few days have been a tumultuous time for South Africans. Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old student from the University of Cape Town, went missing a little over a week ago. Yesterday, a 42-year-old man was charged with her rape and murder, a crime he claims to have allegedly committed in the Post Office after his colleagues had gone home. Last week Friday, South African boxing champion, Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels, was shot and killed, allegedly by her policeman boyfriend. As if that weren't enough, 6-year-old Amy-Lee de Jager, was abducted just outside of her school by four men who then demanded a R2 million ransom (USD 131 000). Fortunately, de Jager was recently found unharmed and returned to her family.

In light of the unceasing violence against women, South Africans are calling for the return of the death penalty.

BUSINESSTECH reports that over 300 000 South Africans have signed a petition calling for the return of the death penalty. South Africans are understandably frustrated by the increasing violence against women and a justice system failing to apprehend perpetrators while further victimizing women.

The Daily Nightmare of Being a South African Woman Shows No Signs of Ending

However, responding to voter's questions before the May elections this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that, "Our constitution has enshrined the right to life. This means that the state should not be the one to terminate a life. The surge in criminality should be addressed in other ways rather than ending people's lives." Constitutional law expert, Pierre De Vos, added that, "To endorse the death penalty is to endorse state violence and the brutality that necessarily forms part of premeditating killing."

South African women have taken to social media using #AmINext to talk about how frightened they are to do even the most ordinary tasks by themselves.

While Ramaphosa has not addressed the country, especially after numerous calls for a national state-of-emergency to be declared, the government tweeted a response which many have criticized and condemned for its victim-blaming undertones.

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.

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