17 Year Old South African Girl Gang-Raped & Murdered: Shame Revisited?

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Earlier this year, on February 2, Anene Booysen was taken from David’s Sports Bar and Grill in Bredasdorp South Africa to a nearby housing development. To a sandy passage between two small RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) houses, and alongside a deep culvert.


There, the 17-year-old girl, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister and a friend of some and known to many, was gang-raped and murdered. Inbetween those two events, she was disembowelled. Not just her body but Anene herself… because she died much later, after she was found by a security guard, her blood sinking into the sand.

A week later, with South Africa seemingly rising up in protest over the grotesque invasion and mutilation of Anene’s body and life, I went to join the demonstration outside the Bredasdorp Magistrate’s Court, where three young men appeared in connection with the crime. I also went to the spot where Anene’s dignity and life were taken from her…

… and found these flowers. And a wooden cross. And I found the horror. I found it on people’s faces. I felt it in the heat of a midsummer’s day. Between two unoccupied houses.

The horror had its own home between two tiny, empty houses built on sand. And I felt it snaking through my body.

I went back on Saturday. May 25, 2013. Exactly 16 weeks later.

I returned to the home of horror…


At first, I stood back. To absorb what I saw. What I felt. To feel. To feel what had changed.

Nothing had changed for me. The horror lived on.

I immediately noticed that the flowers and the cross had been removed. I had expected that.

I saw that front doors had been installed in the houses. And I noticed that people had moved into their new RDP houses…

into every house but the two that flanked the place where a child of their community had been raped and torn apart.

I breathed deeply and moved closer…


Grasses and plants (gardeners would call them weeds) had grown where the flowers once lay dying…

… and a lamb was eating them.


A lamb. It peered at me through barbed wire. I moved closer to photograph it. It bleated at me.

I don’t do bleating very well. So I did the tongue-click thing I do near animals whose voices I cannot mimic.

And the lamb stayed, munching happily on the greenery growing on what, to me, feels like the grave of Anene Booysen…


Her grave. Upon which dogs now shit.



A small girl appeared. On the other side of the culvert. A girl growing up like Anene once did.


She was joined by a friend in the culvert… and posed for the camera…


Tinka and Mikala. Putting out a gangsta vibe. For my camera.

Wanting money for their show. Of hopelessness.

On the exact spot where Anene was raped and murdered.

I asked the two little gangsta-girls if they knew Anene. Knew of Anene.

They didn’t.

The flower was gone. Gone, gone, gone…

but I found something, a symbol of hope, to lift me up…


Next to the house where nobody wants to live… little yellow flowers… for Anene…

… to help lift her up… and lift her up…

… again… into the consciousness of those of us…

… who seem not to care.


RIP Anene Booysen.

Child of the Nation.

* According to last week’s Mail & Guardian, all charges against “Accused One” (Jonathan Davids) in the case of the rape and murder of Anene Booysen have been dropped – due to lack of evidence.

You can read more about the trial here.

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