Many sympathize with those arguing for death penalty of the perpetrator(s) responsible for the shocking hijacking case in Boksburg causing the death of 4-year Taegrin Morris on the 21 July. His life ended in a horrible way that is difficult to imagine for most of us, dragged 8 kilometres hanging from his seatbelt on the outside of the hijacked car. When the hijackers stopped the car, the boy was dead. They left him there. It is hard to rationalize and understand how anyone is capable of such acts. Or perhaps better expressed – how does anyone become capable of such evil?
Children are our future but the 4-year old boy never got the chance to start living his. It was stolen from him and the way that happened makes no sense. Neither does the numerous hijacking, rape and domestic violence cases that happen in South Africa every single day. Gauteng Premier David Makhura labelled the crime a heartless act and indicated the hijackers could have been under the influence of drugs. So what if they were? Why should that even count as an argument making any kind of justification for causing the death of an innocent civilian – a little boy? We do not doubt that responsible authorities and law enforcement agencies are implementing measures to address crime in South Africa. We do however doubt that current coping mechanisms are sufficient.
The hijackers must be taught a lesson, authorities say. Yes, but more is needed to address an escalating spiral of violence that often target women and children. In fairness, many men also become victim of violent crimes, yet the majority victims of rape and domestic violence remain women and children. A change in the current situation would have to encounter and include the voice of women. Why? Taking into account the large amount of South African female victims, women would be best positioned to understand and identify the root-causes and solutions to the problem. Women should not be victimized. They should be counted with and listened to.
Women in South Africa have joined forces in the struggle for justice and equal rights before. The 1956 Women March is probably the most famous example celebrated 9 August every year. Also today we see an aspiring movement of women stating publicly that enough is enough. Protesting women demanding an end to domestic violence during the trial of Oscar Pistorius who is charged with murder of his girlfriend is one example. Irrespective of the outcome of the Pistorius case, the sad reality is that violence has become a daily reality for many women and children in South Africa. Responsible authorities carry the primary responsibility to do something with it.
It does not take much to imagine how we would have felt had it been our little son or daughter being kidnapped, raped, or like this little boy – killed while hanging out from a car in speed as if he was a piece of cloth. Yet, the case of the 4-year old boy should do more than spark off a reaction against the perpetrators or we might soon again witness similar cases. In a society that remains fractured and racially divided, few issues unite women in the country. One issue does. Violence against women and children is not class- or race based, nor is domestic violence. It is about freedom, respect, equality and safety – rights equally applying to all women.