February 20th, 2013
10:33 AM ET

Teen's slaying prompts South African soul searching

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @CNNEmma

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

South Africa is no stranger to violence against women. Fully 71 percent of women report having been victims of sexual violence, a rate that's among the highest in the world.

Still, the nation is not inured to the horror these crimes inflict. Lindiwe Mazibuko serves in South Africa's parliament. She says the rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booyson should spur people to action:

[1:05] "I believe that this can be a watershed moment. I believe it's up to South African society, political leaders, the government and those in the criminal justice system to decide whether or not this will be a watershed moment."

The brutality of the crime, as well as Booyson's bravery identifying one of her attackers before she died, has captivated South Africa. Protesters marched, columnists penned emotional editorials, and President Jacob Zuma weighed in as well.

But political scientist Sally Matthews says much of the discussion misconstrues the problem:

[2:24] "What concerns me is that a lot of the responses to gender-based violence call the men who commit these acts monsters or think of such men as being very different from the rest of us."

Matthews argues that instead of distancing these perpetrators from society as a whole, the community should consider how broadly-held attitudes and opinions contribute to a culture that tolerates violence.

The Valentine's day shooting at the home of Olympian Oscar Pistorius, dropped right in the middle of this conversation.

Pistorius has professed his innocence in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. But he faces a charge of premeditated murder. Authorities said there had been "previous incidents" at the home, including "allegations of a domestic nature," but did not provide details.

In an eerie connection between the two cases, Steenkamp posted a tribute to Booyson on Instagram. Four days later, she died of multiple gunshot wounds.

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  1. Ursula

    There is a solution to the problem. Just like change was needed, according to certain people, in my country, with a change of government in 1993, so change is needed now. This land, the Southern African Region must be given back to it's indigenous people, the Khoi, the San, the Nama and other important bushman indigenous tribes. They came and took our land away from us. They brought evil and bloodshed to our shores. They transgressed our borders and tried to completely destroy our people. But we live on. The lies they spread throughout the world that our people no longer exist, will be continually exposed because it is the time of the Restoration of the First Nations and the Spirit of our God will not rest until the Restoration of our land to it's rightful people is accomplished.

    February 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |