When a 23-year-old woman was raped and tortured to death in Delhi, the case captured the attention of the world. Two months later, a 17-year-old girl was raped and tortured to death near Cape Town in an eerily similar case, but hardly anyone noticed. In both cases, the women were gang raped, mutilated and cut open. But the rape and murder of women has become horrifyingly common in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela is still officially venerated as a saint, his smiling face appearing on countless posters, while the man himself, having solved all the problems of his native country, tours the world with a group of elders, including Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter, to solve the problems of other countries; but while Mandela tours, his own country has descended into its own kind of hell.
For women, South Africa may be the worst place on earth. South Africa is one of the few countries on earth where women die before men.
South Africa has the most rapes per capita of anywhere in the world. 3,600 rapes happen in South Africa every day. 40% percent of South African women will be raped. In one survey, 1 in 4 men admitted to being rapists. 1 in 10 of those admitted to raping little girls. Children are believed to be the victims of 41% of the rapes in the country.
But the best picture of how nightmarish South Africa has become for women may be that the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress, had been on trial for rape. Since the trial, Zuma’s accuser has fled abroad, after being threatened, while Zuma rules South Africa.
Both the 17-year-old girl and Zuma’s accuser were black.
Tellingly, Zuma’s accuser was HIV positive and a victim of child rape. Neither of these biographical notes was unusual in a country where 28% of the schoolgirls in one area were HIV positive and where 1 in 3 girls have been sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday. A third of pregnant women have been found to be HIV positive making it a curse that is being passed on to the next generation.
AIDS has saturated South Africa, helped along by its rape culture and the continent’s superstitions about the disease. HIV positive men believe that they can be cured through sexual contact with a virgin. Such superstitions are not the province of rural backwaters. Several post-Apartheid presidents, including Zuma, have entertained unscientific theories about the spread of AIDS making it even more difficult to fight the disease.
5.6 million South Africans have the virus making it the country with the largest number of infected people. While the impact of AIDS among the white population is slight, 13.6% of the African population is HIV positive reflecting the spread of the post-Apartheid epidemic.
While it is possible to claim that South Africa’s horrifying death toll is not connected to the end of Apartheid, the heavy increase in mortality rates paints a different picture. Maternal mortality has quadrupled since the end of Apartheid and mortality rates in general have undergone a terrifying increase.
Between 1997 and 2008, South Africa’s population only increased by a quarter, but its mortality rate nearly doubled. It might be easy to attribute this increase to AIDS, but AIDS played only a limited role compared to a constellation of more common diseases and even more common violence.
South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world either per capita or in the sheer number of people killed. If the full numbers are assessed based on fatalities, rather than underreported offenses, South Africa might have the highest murder rate in the world. The vast majority of those killed under this state of lawlessness are black.
Numbers like these can’t come as much of a surprise. Under the official statistics, 25 percent of South Africans are unemployed. In the unofficial statistics, these numbers climb into the 40s. Only 41 percent of working age adults actually holds a job. And the statistics are worse for blacks than they are for whites. Half of South Africans and more than half of South African children live below the poverty line. The black personal income level is drifting back to apartheid era numbers.
As in Rhodesia, the problem was not so much the end of Apartheid, as the insistence of the international community in seeing power handed over to the most radical and violent elements of the opposition.
In Rhodesia, the international community rejected Bishop Abel Muzorewa and insisted on handing over power to Mugabe. The horror that followed from putting a vicious terrorist group in charge of the country was inevitable. Similarly handing over power to the African National Congress had entirely predictable results. While Mandela tours the world enjoying the benefits of his sainthood, South Africa burns.
White people have been the most obvious targets in South Africa and Zimbabwe, but the black population has suffered the most from the collapse of law and order and the implementation of a tyrannical state run at the whims of monsters like Mugabe and Zuma, not to mention Malema.
Both Mugabe and the ANC have tried to cover up their disastrous misrule by turning the white population into scapegoats with land seizures and racial hiring practices, but what they have really done is played favorites, handing out plum positions and farms to their cronies while destroying business and agriculture. And the Marikana mine massacre dispelled any illusions that the ANC would be any less brutal toward black workers than the old regime.
Post-Apartheid South Africa is a good deal like Apartheid South Africa with a hierarchy based on African National Congress connections at the top and the same old hierarchy in most other places. Rather than ending Apartheid, the old system has been post-racialized and utterly corrupted under the guise of racial liberation.
For most of South Africa’s black population, the economic facts of life have not improved and the social facts of life have worsened.
Like Mugabe, Mandela did not usher in a new beginning for South African whites and blacks, but the beginning of the end for the future of all races in the country.
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