Following the death of Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko in an apparent suicide, the National Freedom Party (NFP) has called for the reinstatement of the death penalty for rape.
Maseko was raped by her then boyfriend in May in what has been widely considered a factor that led to her suicide.
NFP head of communications Sabelo Sigudu says Maseko’s story provides “evidence that the government has failed [the] women of South Africa”.
“The government must not be lenient with people who continue to degrade and shame the country,” Sigudu continued.
“The time has come for the government to stop turning a blind eye to the call for [the] death penalty [for] those who rape and kill women,” he said.
Sigudu said the NFP “challenge the ANC-led government to open a debate in parliament on bringing back [the] death penalty”.
He added: “If the ANC-led government is serious [about] protecting women,” they would bring back the death penalty rather than resorting to what he called “cheap lip service”.
Sigudu also highlighted “ongoing rape culture in South Africa”, adding: “This month is supposedly woman’s month, losing a young intellectual like her is a huge loss.”
The NFP’s call for the death penalty follows a similar call from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). The Citizen reported on July 20 that the party called for the public to discuss whether the time had come to bring back the death penalty or not.
The NFP, a breakaway from the IFP formed in 2011, has been struggling recently to maintain support, with recent by-elections seeing the IFP regain control over areas the NFP had previously won.
Their echoing of the IFP’s policies and views could be taken as evidence that they are attempting to maintain relevance amid this drop in support.
Khensani Maseko, a student from Rhodes University who was allegedly raped by her then boyfriend in May, died at her family home in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon in an apparent suicide.
The Rhodes University SRC has expressed their shock, while on social media tributes have poured in, with many spreading the hashtag #RIPKhensani and voicing their outrage at Maseko’s suicide and at South African rape culture in general.
READ MORE: SA is a nation of abusers, stats show
Maseko was an SRC alumnus, active in campus politics as a member of the EFF.
Nhlakanipho Mahlangu, a member of Rhodes SRC, said: “We know the amount of promise she had to offer us all, I mean to offer the entire country. We’re very shaken, it’s a very difficult time for us as the SRC, and we wish her family all the strength and support that we can.”
The rape of South African women is among the highest in the world, according to a Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) report released in June. “A total of 250 out of every 100 000 women were victims of sexual offence, compared to 120 out of every 100 000 men,” the 2016-17 Victims of Crime report stated.