Recent injustices have, once again, highlighted deeply-entrenched and systemic issues of racism as well as violent masculinities as a result of patriarchy and the normalisation of violence in South Africa. The murder of 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu in the town of Coligny in the North-West Province and the brutal murder of Karabo Mokoena are two such injustices that should not go overlooked.
In Coligny this past week, widespread protests broke out as members of the community took to the streets in pursuit of justice for Moshoeu’s death following the bail hearing of his murder where two white farm workers were granted bail of R5 000 each. Their version of events is that Moshoeu was caught stealing sunflowers and fell to his death while they were transporting him to the police station while an eyewitness maintains that Moshoeu was badly beaten up and deliberately killed by these two men. Moshoeu’s death and the conversations emerging around it are symptomatic of systemic failures in addressing the normalisation of violence and the continued dehumanisation of Black people due to racism. It is in light of this that we need to grapple with the reality that Black children are often denied childhood innocence. A child picking a flower is an everyday occurrence and something far from a crime, yet the white men immediately criminalised this action. This disproportionate violent response towards Black bodies ought to be heavily critiqued.
Violence of this nature seems to be an everyday injustice as more members of the community have opened up about previous murders of Black children. Coligny’s pre-existing conditions and environment speaks to an eerie Apartheid-style separatist town in which the spatial legacies of Apartheid live on and power relations are racially skewed; highlighting that the murder of Moshoeu should not been seen as a “random malicious act” but rather as part of a larger systemic problem with environmental, socio-economic and historical contributing factors which created the fertile ground for the murder of a Black child. His murder has highlighted many issues in Coligny; issues that are largely interlinked to many other socio-economic and historical concerns in the country and the world, at large.
The IJR calls upon local and provincial government as well as community leaders to address this issue of urgency in such a way that our actions are bold and speak to that of justice. We also urge members of Coligny who are involved in reconciliation processes to first surface the root causes of the present conflict in hopes of justice.
Karabo Mokoena, who had been missing since April 28th, was found dead and killed and burnt by her boyfriend further highlights the normalisation of violence in South Africa as well as the violent nature of patriarchy and toxic masculinities. Both these incidents are symptomatic of systemic failures in addressing these deeply-entrenched issues.
We call upon civil society, community leaders, students, government officials and concerned members of the public to assist in changing the narrative around Gender violence in that Cisgender Heterosexual men ought to start taking responsibility for the perpetuation and complacency of violent masculinities and the violence inflicted on Womxn, Non-binary people and the LGBTQIA+ community, at large. We urge all to shift the narrative away from victim-blaming and the #NotAllMen conversation towards assuming one’s responsibility and role in fighting Institutionalised and systemic patriarchy.
Jodi Williams, Project Officer
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
Tel – (021) 202 4071