I met Velabahleke (not his real name – meaning ‘amuser’ in Zulu) in Mangaung Correction Facility, near Bloemfontein. He was delightfully entertaining with a light, easy charm and a quick wit. By the time I met him, he’d already been in prison for many years and his hard life was etched into his face – making him appear much older than his 40 years. He was serving a 51-year sentence for murder, aggravated robbery, intimidation and possession of a firearm.
This year marks 40 years since the student uprisings of 1976, after which South Africa was never the same again. At the heart of the student protests was black consciousness – a political awareness of what it meant to be saddled with a grossly inferior education in segregated schools. Schools remain a prime a target for protest action. Just a few recent examples include: in April, angry students burnt down a technical high school in Port St Johns and in May, 28 schools were torched, some razed to the ground in Vuwani, Limpopo.
Sexual violence is a tactic of war, used to humiliate, dominate and instil fear. It is also increasingly being used as a tactic of terrorism. While the focus has largely been on women and girls as victims of sexual violence, boys and men are equally at risk.
The internet is a great space for community and interaction but it has also become another site of violence against women, with rape games, cases of revenge porn and verbal abuse. Kagure Mugo explores this dark side.
A UN report has exposed disturbing findings through testimonies of victims of rape in the conflict in South Sudan perpetrated by both government forces and rebels. The government has been accused of using rape as an instrument of terror and weapon of war. More than 1,300 reports of rape were recorded in just one state within five months.
Seven people in Malawi have been attacked and burnt to death by a mob after they were found in possession of human bones suspected to be of albino person/s. Only last month, four people in Malawi were convicted for possession of eight human bones also believed to be of an albino person.
Role models play an exceptionally important part in the life of a young person. Young people relate to, admire and, in many cases, imitate their role models during the most impressionable years of their lives. In South Africa, poor conduct by some among the political elite has left many young people disillusioned by mainstream politics. For others, however, corrupt and self-serving behaviour is viewed with approval and aspiration. This paints a concerning picture for the future of our country.
This weekend, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will convene a double troika summit in Mozambique to receive the report of its commission of inquiry into ‘disturbances to peace and stability’ in Lesotho. The 10-member commission, led by Botswana High Court judge, Mpaphi Phumaphi, was deployed in September and concluded its work in early November. The inquiry was established following the SADC summit that took place in Pretoria in July.
This question came to me against the backdrop of news that French soldiers in the Central African Republic (CAR) had raped and sodomised young boys they were meant to protect.