Pamela Quku at the memorial service for her niece, Amahle Quku.    Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)
Pamela Quku at the memorial service for her niece, Amahle Quku. Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

Spike in femicides since SA went into level 3 of lockdown

By ASANDA SOKANYILE Time of article published Jun 27, 2020

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Cape Town - Families across the country are dealing with a second pandemic as they seek answers for the brutal murders and rapes of their mothers, daughters and sisters.

In recent weeks there was a spike in the number of women found murdered, prompting a series of marches against gender-based violence. Weekend Argus takes a look at the lives that were snuffed out in recent days.

Amahle Quku was young and had ambitious dreams of alleviating her family from a life of poverty.

Her mother makes a living selling home-made traditional beer. The family of five live in a three-room shack.

Amahle was set on providing a better life for her parents after finishing school. Speaking to Weekend Argus this week her aunt, Pamela Quku said the 17-year-old Grade 11 pupil often told her parents that as soon as she finished school her mother would stop making and selling beer, they would go back to the Eastern Cape, live a happy simple life and she would take care of them because she would get a good job.

But the life of the “free-spirited, well-mannered girl who loved to sing” was cut short a week ago. Amahle’s half-naked body was found about 800m away from her home.

“She left home around 8pm after responding to a WhatsApp text. Her mother tried to stop her from leaving so late, but she said she was not going far, her friends are close by and she would be back soon. That was the last time her mother saw her,” said Pamela.

Sibongiseni Gabada was an artist, an aunt and a mother to her pets, a cat called Ginger and a puppy called Blacky.

She was allegedly killed by her ex-boyfriend who according to her friends, was an abusive drug addict.

PEOPLE marched to the Nyanga police station to protest against gender-based violence. Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

The 36-year-old woman’s body was found stuffed in a refuse bag covered with old wooden planks. Her 78-year-old grandmother, Mavis Gabada described her as a “jovial, fun-loving person with a warm heart”.

“I raised her, I used to work for a family in Camps Bay and she lived with me on their property.

“On Sunday mornings, she would wake myself and Mrs Hilton with a nice breakfast and tell us not to get out of bed because we were old and needed to rest. She took care of us. She never missed a birthday, Mother’s Day or any other special day. She always wanted me to be happy. Oh, and she loved to cook and bake,” she said.

Andisiwe Tyokwe knows the pain of living with an abuser all to well.

“People from the outside looking in think it is easy to just up and leave an abusive partner. It is not,” said the gender-based violence survivor and mother of two.

“Until you are in a situation like that you always tell yourself that if something like that would happen, you would leave. But at that very moment leaving becomes the furthest thing from your mind,” said Tyokwe.

Zuziwe Mvinjana’s body was found near Macassar beach. Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Speaking to Weekend Argus at the height of what President Cyril Ramaphosa called a pandemic, Tyokwe said it had taken her years to finally get the courage to leave.

“Four years and two children later he was still using me as a punching bag, he would force himself on me when drunk and sometimes lock me in the bedroom for a day or two for having upset him or maybe having said something he didn’t like.

“I was scared to leave. I was scared to report him because I knew how violent he could get and I never trusted that the police could keep me safe.

“About a week after he had hit me so bad that my eyes were bloodied and my right arm broken, I told him I was leaving him, he laughed at me and went out drinking with his friends.

“He came back after two days, fell asleep and I just grabbed my kids and walked out.

“I was scared he would follow me like he had done before, but he never did and that is how my four-year-long trauma just ended,” said Tyokwe.

Mavis Gabada’s granddaughter Sibongiseni
was murdered. Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

The death of Zuziwe Mvinjana has left her family with more questions than answers. Her half naked body was discovered at Macassar Beach this week. Her handbag and cellphone not too far from where she lay.

According to Mvinjana’s son, Sithembiso Mvinjana, the pair had set an appointment for him to take her to the hospital to get tested for Covid-19.

“She had most of the symptoms, we had taken her to the doctor before but she was not getting any better, I told her on Monday I would take her to the hospital and she should not go on her own. She agreed,” said Sithembiso.

But when Zuziwe’s daughter called her home to check on how her mother was doing, she did not answer the phone.

“Siphokazi was worried because we knew that ma was ill so her not picking up her phone caused panic.

“We then called a cousin who lives up the road from her to go and check, when he got there the house was empty. We knew she wouldn’t have gone to the hospital or clinic alone and not tell any of us,” he said.

Police spokesperson, Mihlali Majikela, said an inquest was registered for investigation.

Provincial police commissioner Yolisa Matakata said a 26-year-old rape survivor was turned away at a Khayelitsha police station when she tried to report the incident.

The young woman said instead of being assisted, police told her to “go home, not wash and come back the next day”. Matakata has since initiated a disciplinary investigation into the matter. Last month a number of women, including eight-month pregnant Tshegofatso Pule, Naledi Phangindawo and disabled Zanele Masikane, were also brutally murdered prompting the country to take to social media with hashtags, #EnoughIsEnough and #Women’sLivesMatter.

Ramaphosa condemned the “surge in murders of women and children”.

He said gender-based violence and femicide increased since the country entered lockdown level 3.

“We need to understand what factors are fuelling this terrible trend and, as a society as a whole, address them urgently,” said Ramaphosa.

WEEKEND ARGUS

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