Cape Town - Speaker after speaker called for a halt to the violence in South Africa as mourners gathered under dark clouds to pay their last respects to Anene Booysen. The Bredasdorp teenager, who was brutally gang-raped, mutilated and then left for dead, was buried yesterday.
People who had never met Anene, 17, joined her family and friends to honour her life. She survived long enough after her ordeal to name her attackers, and set the police on the track to finding them.
By yesterday three people, all from Bredasdorp, had been arrested. The police said more arrests were expected.
As the rain fell, the mourners walked about 1km from Anene’s home in Kleinbegin to the Uniting Reformed Church, where her funeral service was held.
Many of her family were dressed in orange and black, and walked solemnly into the church together before the service began. They huddled in the front row as Anene’s white coffin was carried in.
Anene was described by speakers as a good, happy teen who had never given her family any problems.
Paying his respects on behalf of the provincial government, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato listed a series of recent violent crimes committed against women in the Western Cape, including the brutal murder of teenager Charmaine Mare in Kraaifontein. Her burnt body was found last month with arms and legs hacked off.
“Our communities have become sick,” Plato said, calling for an end to the “rape pandemic”.
Russel Botman, rector and vice-chancellor of the University of Stellenbosch, said he had visited the town previously to address the youth, the “born-frees”. He said he had decided to return yesterday because “one of those born-frees was not protected”.
He warned that South Africa was on the road to replacing the evil of apartheid with another evil – that of violence against women and children.
“We cannot lose our born-frees in this manner,” he said.
Outside the church, Hanif Loonat from the Western Cape Community Police Board said the board was concerned about the escalation in the number of rapes and murders.
Statistics showed that a woman was raped in South Africa every four minutes of every day.
“We condemn the actions of these evil perpetrators, and appeal to our men to stand up against these violent acts against our women and children,” he said.
“We cannot allow such crimes to become normal within our communities.
“The silence must be broken.”
At the graveside, tears streamed down the face of Anene’s foster mother, Corlia Olivier, as her daughter’s coffin was lowered into the ground.
The Booysen family said they were “overwhelmed” at the love and support they had received.
While many mourners speculated about the reason for the attack, others discussed the youngsters who had been arrested.
“They come from good families,” said one mourner.
“They cannot blame drugs. Nothing justifies what happened to this girl.”
Anene, who was attacked on Friday night last week, managed to attract the attention of a security guard on foot patrol in the deserted housing construction site where she was found.
Before she died in hospital she identified one of her attackers as a man she had grown up with.
One suspect, a 23-year-old man, has already appeared in court.
The other two will appear in court tomorrow
. - Sunday Argus