Editorial: Making a murder scene

Two rapes and murders that happened worlds apart have the same tragic thread that unites them. Both Sinoxolo Mafevuka and Franziska Blochliger were young women whose lives were cut short by senseless brutal violence. On either side of the divides of race, class and location, two families have experienced the sudden and unexpected loss of loved ones whose lives had barely just begun.

While many commentators have been quick to point out the glaring disparity between the media coverage, the difference in efficiency of policing and the progress made (or lack thereof in the case of Sinoxolo Mafevuka) in these two murders, one cannot weigh the life of one woman as more or less valuable than that of another. We should be angry in both cases and we should all pray for justice to prevail for both Sinoxolo and Franziska.

However, Sinoxolo Mafevuka was raped and murdered in circumstances that are created and maintained by the City of Cape Town. Patricia de Lille’s administration has created the conditions whereby merely doing your ablutions is a perilous task. Simply put, Sinoxolo Mafevuka may have paid with her life for going to the toilet at night.

Service delivery and the provision of basic sanitation services is the responsibility of government. Sanitation services for all is a right, yet these blocks of township communal toilets are simply not safe for men, women and children.

People are vulnerable late at night and early in the morning. These toilets are filthy, some are poorly serviced, and almost all of them are unsafe at certain hours, leading to some form of the perpetuation of the bucket system.

And still the City of Cape Town will brag about delivery of services and sanitation, and clean audits. It will say that it delivers, but it cannot see past doing the bare minimum and passing that off as being good enough for the township. It was only a few years ago when so-called “cabriolet toilets”, or open air toilets that were devoid of privacy was good enough to pass as Cape Town’s version of service delivery. Just because toilets now have walls and privacy, it is still not enough.

Sinoxolo Mafevuka was imperiled by the egregiously inadequate service delivery of the City of Cape Town. She is not the first, and she unfortunately will not be the last, at least as long as the Democratic Alliance continues to govern Cape Town. No human being should be at risk of life, limb and dignity for want of dignified and safe sanitation.

One cannot say that the police did a better job in the one case than they did in the other case based purely on location. In the case of Franziska Blochlinger, it was the tracing of her iPhone and the carelessness of the alleged perpetrators that led to the arrest of four suspects. Sinoxolo did not have an iPhone to track, and the perpetrator/s of her horrific rape and murder had the cover of the night to disappear into. While there are definite disparities in policing competencies and resources between the two police jurisdictions in which these two heinous crimes took place, the Franziska Blochliger case largely cracked itself due to the iPhone trace. In any case the arguments over police competency is moot – no investigatory competency can bring these young women back.

What is clear is that the City of Cape Town’s inadequate delivery of safe services contributed enormously to the rape and murder of Sinoxolo Mafevuka. It is Patricia de Lille and Helen Zille who set the scene for the murder, while they boast about delivering sanitation. There is no point in delivering sanitation services in environments that imperil you.

The City of Cape Town and the Provincial Administration of the Western Cape must hang their heads in shame. Helen Zille and Patricia de Lille must make available every possible resource to find the rapists and killers of Sinoxolo Mafevuka. Its the least that they can do to make up for doing as much as possible in providing the perfect murder scene for the poorest of the poor.

Melikhaya Xego is the Provincial Secretary of Economic Freedom Fighters in the Western Cape.

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