Anene: a year on from her death

Crime & Courts

Cape Town - Copious amounts of alcohol, thumping music and free entry – a year on, the tavern where Anene Booysen was last seen alive continues to be a haven for youngsters who flock there, seemingly unperturbed by the savage rape and murder that rocked the town.

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Anene Booysen was raped and murdered at a building site in Bredasdorp in February 2013.Bredasdorp. 010214. The 17-year-old was raped, mutilated and left for dead. Her story shook the country to its core and many into action.

What was it about Anene's story, her reality that gripped the country's consciousness the way it did? Was it the brutality of it (which in itself is worrying as all rapes are brutal)? Was it how she was found? Alone and left for dead. Was it the subsequent chilling stories that emerged from Bredasdorp of young people saying rape was normal here, but "why did they have to kill her"? We'd truly been shaken from the root of our desensitisation, and we couldn't look away. Picture Leon Lestrade. Story Janis Kinnear.

Despite obvious signs for the “attention of all youngsters” that entry will be denied without an ID, the bar – previously Kallies Pub, now David’s Sports Bar and Pub – doesn’t appear to enforce the age limit seriously.

Weekend Argus visited on Friday night and it seems to serve as a tavern and a club. Liquor is sold in the front section, to be consumed there or off the premises, while the middle section offers seating at tables and chairs, which overlook a dance area.

Many of the patrons didn’t look anywhere near 18, but what was evident was that security there certainly has been beefed up.

Officials were at the ready

to move in when patrons broke glasses or became unruly – and on Friday night at least two brawls broke out.

Leaving the venue, a girl, who looked around Booysen’s age when she was murdered last year, stood a few metres away, alone in the dark.

She appeared to be waiting, staring at the door.

Booysen was just 17 on that Friday evening of February 1 last year when she last visited the pub, totally unaware that her young life was about to be cut brutally short.

From witness accounts, she had left during the early morning hours with convicted killer and rapist Johannes Kana, 22, still carrying a glass in her hand.

But the grisly events which followed, after the pair were last seen walking towards Asla Site B, sent shockwaves around South Africa and the world, prompting calls for someone to finally do something about the escalating scourge of rape and murder.

On February 2 the teenager was found by a security guard at a construction site, conscious but in agony.

With a vicious tear between her vagina and anus, and intestines protruding after being disembowelled, Booysen was rushed to a local hospital.

Despite the consequences of her gruesome assault, she reportedly uttered the name of her attacker, alleging he had not been alone.

But by the afternoon, she had succumbed to her injuries and died in Tygerberg Hospital.

Yesterday residents approached by the Weekend Argus seemed reluctant to speak about the incident, only saying it had shocked the community and Booysen’s attack was hard to forget.

The cross at her gravesite, on the slopes of the Overberg, had received a new coat of silver paint. A heart bouquet, its flowers no longer in evidence, remained slung around the wooden cross.

An array of coloured plastic flowers adorned the heap of rocks beneath which Anene was laid to rest.

“I go to the grave regularly. We were there last Sunday when we sprayed the cross silver. I’ve told people to stop offering donations for a grave stone... I want to pay for it myself,” a still shaken Corlia Olivier, Booysen’s foster mother, told Weekend Argus.

At her home in the informal settlement Tussen Treine the first notable reminder of Booysen is a framed poem, written about her shocking demise by a school pupil from De Heide Primary School.

Of the attention paid to Booysen’s rape and murder, Olivier said: “It will never stop.”

Olivier said she had no ill feelings towards Kana, who she had never met before the court proceedings. She only wished he “had opened his mouth”.

“I wish he had just come to me and said he’s sorry.”

She believes she did all she could to try and get Booysen home that fateful night.

“There are few parents who would make the effort to go fetch their kids, but she refused to come, and look what happened.”

While she had no other items by which to remember Booysen, the girl’s aunt, Elsabe Sheldon, lovingly cherishes two glass bottles encasing water and blue plastic flowers which were a gift from her niece.

She recalled that Booysen was only four when she and her brother Ryno, now 23, came to live with Olivier. At 15, in Grade 7, Booysen was forced to drop out of school to go to work.

“Anene was still childlike and wasn’t developed to the level of a girl her age. She still loved playing with dolls,” Sheldon recalled.

Of Kana’s conviction – he was sentenced to two life terms – Sheldon said while she believed he deserved punishment for raping and assaulting Booysen, she was “unhappy” that he was found guilty of her murder.

“Kana is nothing to me, but I feel like he was threatened or forced to take the fall for her murder.”

She said she would support a petition under way for leave to appeal against Kana’s sentence, which was handed down last November in the Swellendam Magistrate’s Court.

Waiting for her lift, the aunt said she was part of the local neighbourhood watch, formed last March to safeguard other youngsters after Booysen’s death.

“It’s the one positive which came out of her death. We found that children who were underage had been allowed to drink at Kallies Pub and then, after meeting with the owner, people must now show their IDs to prove they are 18,” Sheldon said.

Patrols start at 8pm and continue until 3am.

“Ever since we started doing rounds it’s been fairly quiet in terms of violent crime,” she said, adding that the safety group often confiscated sharp objects, including knives and screwdrivers from mostly “drunk or high” youngsters.

“I’m so concerned about the safety of our children, and the police’s hands are often cut off and there is only so much we can do. Discipline starts at home and you as a parent much enforce it and take charge of your children’s behaviour.”

She blames alcohol and drug abuse, not only in the poverty-stricken area, but all over the country, as the drivers of sexual violence and crime.

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