Khensani Maseko was laid to rest at funeral at Nasrec Memorial Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)
Much as Karabo (Mokoena) who was murdered by her boyfriend became a symbol of the battered woman, Khensani (Maseko) is the new symbol of rape in this country.

The 23-year-old Rhodes University student and SRC member took her life after posting on social media a comment: “Nobody deserves to be raped.”

Her tragic passing led to an outpouring of shock, grief and anger. Students met in Makhanda (Grahamstown) to salute Maseko, and to take a strong stand against rape.

The university said it acted immediately after it was alerted and suspended her alleged rapist pending an investigation.

Vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela said society had failed Maseko.

Her social media profile includes the #MeToo (a reference to victims of sexual abuse) and the heart line with the message: “When this line gets straight everyone will love you.” She clearly knew the impact her death would have.

The most beautiful picture of her is dated April 21, taken before her life was shattered, becoming another victim of gender abuse.

Her family have condemned violence and abuse against women, more particularly rape.

Did they take home a broken daughter; did she feel violated, isolated, or somehow that people thought she was to blame?

Did she dread the secondary victimisation that would come from a court case where in the dock stood a former boyfriend? We will never know.

The students this week spoke and sang, among others, the moving anthem “Senzani Na?” ("What have we done?") in a show of their sense of collective responsibility for this tragedy.

This Women’s Month we owe it to Maseko, and all other victims of gender-based violence, to find some real and lasting solutions to this problem that she has given a face to.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently called for an end to what he termed a violent war on women in South Africa. We agree with his view that it is an affront to our common humanity. This newspaper urges all members of the public to help end the scourge of violence against women. Let us send a clear and strong message to abusers - even if they are our own family members - that their behaviour will no longer be tolerated.

Cape Argus