Cape Town - Annie Lennox has pleaded with the South African public to keep up the momentum of outrage and activism against rape. This comes as protests and vigils in the wake of Anene Booysen’s gang-rape and murder a little over a week ago continue to sweep the country.

“This is not the last rape and murder of its kind that will occur in South Africa, but we need to keep this issue in the forefront of our minds and discussions. If we don’t, nothing will ever change,” the British singer-songwriter told the Cape Argus on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Lennox stood alongside school pupils, activists, religious leaders and ordinary Capetonians expressing outrage at the murder of Anene.

After a silent vigil outside St George’s Cathedral, Lennox publicly spoke out against the “perpetual cycle of rape and abuse” of women in South Africa.

She pledged solidarity with Anene’s family and “with all mothers and daughters” who experience rape first-hand or in their families.

The former Eurythmics star has a history of activism in gender rights and HIV awareness in the city and abroad.

She first came to Cape Town in 2003, and a visit to a Khayelitsha rape survivors’ support clinic in 2005 opened her eyes to the crisis of gender violence in the country.

In September last year she cemented her ties with Cape Town by marrying Mitch Besser, founder and medical director of mothers2mothers, an NGO which helps in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

“In every such heinous crime there is a golden opportunity. South Africa has the potential to be the most magnificent blueprint for a society that has changed the tide on violence against women.

“The level of outrage after Anene’s death, along with the freedom of expression and high levels of activism that defines the country, shows me that this is possible.”

She added that a situation in which “this issue just falls off the table” was an unacceptable outcome.

“We can’t keep on waiting for the next horrifying rape and murder before we spring into action again. Standing here in an hour of silent protest was a moving experience, but it is not enough.”

Lennox added that the message and activism needed to move from the city centre to townships and poor communities throughout South Africa where “children and women live in constant fear” of being raped.

“This is not a political issue, it doesn’t matter which party one belongs to. It is a human issue, and a universal one at that. Each and everyone of us came from our mothers - men and women all have a deep connection to the feminine gender.

“It is therefore in all of our interest to nurture a society that protects women from the violence that they are currently exposed to on a daily basis,” Lennox said.


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Cape Argus