Angry community members on the scene where several properties and a car were damaged shortly after Tazne van Wyk's murder accused Moehydien Pangaker made his first court appearance. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Angry community members on the scene where several properties and a car were damaged shortly after Tazne van Wyk's murder accused Moehydien Pangaker made his first court appearance. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

I do not know Tazne or her family, but I share their pain and grief

By Ryland Fisher Time of article published Feb 22, 2020

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When the news came in on Thursday morning that eight-year-old Tazne van Wyk’s body had been found in Worcester the previous night, it came as a shock, even though most people who were following the story probably feared the worst.

It is not often that a child, especially a girl, would be returned home safely after being missing for almost two weeks. Tazne, of Elsies River, disappeared on February 7.

As the father of three girls - who are adults now, but I still furiously try to protect them - this is something that all of us fear as our children grow up. We live in an evil world, but we can only hope that we have done enough to protect our children from the violence and other bad things that happen to so many others.

One can only imagine what Tazne went through in her last days - or rather I don’t want to imagine - and I hope that the media will report on the details of what happened with sensitivity out of respect for her memory and her family and friends.

I do not know Tazne or her family, but that does not mean that I cannot share their pain and grief. When we were growing up, every child in the community was the child of every adult in the community. We shared in each other’s joy and, more often than not, in each other’s grief and sadness.

Those who do not appear to share our pain and grief are members of Parliament, who once again showed this week that they are out of touch with society or that they do not really care about the rest of society, as long as they can earn their salaries and promote their parties and political leaders.

In a week when MPs, who are supposed to set an example to the rest of us, acted disgustingly, especially in relation to gender-based violence, Tazne’s death should be a reminder of the dangers that women and girls face in our patriarchal and violent society.

Every day, many women get raped in South Africa, which has made us almost accept rape as part of our culture. As men, we don’t speak up enough against rapists. We don’t speak up enough against men who abuse women and children.

We often encourage and perpetuate gross behaviour towards women by not speaking up when women are subjected to sexist comments or sexist behaviour. We sometimes laugh when other men make sexist comments although we won’t admit it publicly.

We have been down this road before when we have expressed our outrage over violence against women and children. But it seems like the outrage lasts for a few days, even weeks, and then it dissipates. Not enough appears to be done to ensure that this is an issue that remains top of the national agenda.

The economy is important and we need to create jobs for the millions of young people who remain unemployed, but this is not enough.

All of us want the same things for our families and children. We want them to grow up in decent houses, have access to proper education and job opportunities - and we want them to do all this in a safe environment. We don’t want to lie awake at night when our children are out, waiting for the phone to ring with bad news.

The one way we can honour the legacy of people like Tazne van Wyk is to ensure that our women and children are protected, that when anybody hurts them, he pays a heavy price in the form of a long prison sentence.

* Ryland Fisher is chief executive of Ikusasa Lethu Media. Follow him on Twitter: @rylandfisher.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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