Bredasdorp: A tale of two towns

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bredasdorp feb 14 CAPE ARGUS A wreath marks the spot where Anene Booysen was found. Picture: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - While residents living in the more affluent parts of Bredasdorp feel relatively safe and unaffected by the brutal gang rape and murder of a teenage girl earlier this month, those living on the other side of town live in fear.

On February 2, 17-year-old Anene Booysen was gang raped and mutilated before she died of her injuries. The incident shone a spotlight on the small town, with local and international media as well as politicians flocking there.

Christine Basson, who has been working in Bredasdorp for six years, but lives in nearby Napier, said the incident was horrific but did not affect her directly.

“It is terrible what happened, also the way they did it. I can’t imagine what her mother must feel like. People are still talking about it but as time goes by people will forget, which is sad.”

Basson added that she did not know how big the drug problem was in the small town.

“The problem is probably larger in some areas compared to others. I live in one corner (of a town) so don’t know the extent of the problem,” she said.

bredasdorp 2 The Zwelitsha residential area which lies adjacent to the RDP housing development, Simunye, where rape and murder victim Anene Booysen lived. INLSA

“We have heard about gangs in Bredasdorp and also that police are afraid to go into certain areas.

“Three weeks ago I read about four police vans that had their tyres slashed while police were inside a drug house.”

Christelle Faul, a bookshop owner, said it’s not a “black or white thing” but rather huge social problems that were being faced.

“There are definitely huge social problems such as people abusing alcohol and there’s nothing for people to do in this town. Unemployment is also rife.”

She added that Booysen did not die in vain.

“Domestic violence in this town is not worse than any other small town,” said Faul. “If you finish matric, what else is there for you to do? I think this is not an isolated incident and it won’t be the last to happen.”

She added that the attack did not make her feel unsafe. “As a community we should have a neighbourhood watch. I feel guilty that this happened in our community. This is not a black, white, rich or poor thing.”

Annemarie Conolly, who owns a guest house, said she did not feel unsafe where she lived (in a more affluent area in Bredasdorp).

“I don’t feel in danger. We have dogs where we live and cars don’t even get stolen in this area,” she said.

“Drugs are an issue, but not crime. It doesn’t directly affect us.

“It (rape and murder) becomes so part of life and it was certainly shocking when we first heard about Booysen.

“We need laws and punishment for these kinds of crimes, also for crimes such as the one in Kraaifontein, where a girl was found under a bed.”

Katherine Hartebees, who lives in Simunye, said a lot of people in the poorer part of town did not work.

“Teenagers don’t want to study at school; instead they walk around and abuse drugs and alcohol,” she said.

“There have been a lot of rapes, but this has been very brutal.”

As children play in a dusty park next to her RDP house, her laundry flutters on the washing line.

“There is a lot of drugs and wine abused in this area. I think children should just go back to school.”

Cyprian Mjoli, a neighbour, stands in his doorway. A fridge is the only appliance in his two-bedroom RDP home.

“Some people are scared since the murder; less people are going to pubs,” he said.

“There needs to be more entertainment, like different sports, to keep youngsters busy.”

Hendrina Plaatjies has been unemployed for two years.

“I am someone who loves jogging, but now I’m too scared to do that,” she said. “There are a lot of things that happen to women here which people don’t know about. Women are kicked, beaten and raped. What can anyone do in a place like this?”

She added that drugs and alcohol remained a huge problem.

“Youngsters go to the wrong places, you can’t even trust your best friend because people you know are the ones abusing you.”

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Cape Argus

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