Eight years after the death of model Reeva Steenkamp at the hands of disgraced athlete Oscar Pistorius, another Valentine’s Day tragedy has highlighted the broken and “fragmented psyche” of men who perpetuate gender-based violence.
This is according gender activist and Not In My Name spokesperson Mo Senne following the death of a 31-year-old man who plunged to his death from the balcony of a Hillbrow apartment, apparently while trying to avoid arrest.
Officers were investigating a case of assault with intent for grievous bodily opened by the deceased’s girlfriend after he allegedly beat and stabbed her hand with a kitchen knife on the Saturday.
A video shared by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) shows a man falling from the fifth floor of a building and landing on the side of the road, where horrified onlookers rushed to his side.
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According to Ipid spokesperson Ndileka Cola, two officers from the Hillbrow police station arrived at the Moulin Rouge Flat building to see the suspect. The pair were then accompanied by a security guard to the couple’s apartment.
“They knocked at the door but there was no response….The caretaker could not find the spare keys for the specific flat police wanted to access, as such he brought a small chisel to open the door. While busy trying to open the door, they heard somebody screaming.
“They opened the door and discovered that the person they were looking for jumped out of the flat through the window from fifth floor.”
The man was declared dead after paramedics immediately responded to the incident. He was later identified by his girlfriend.
According to the officers, the girlfriend’s hand still had the knife lodged in her hand when she arrived at the Hillbrow police station to open the assault case.
The Citizen is unable to publish the gruesome video, but upon watching it, Senne said she could not help but consider the mental anguish suffered by both the victim and the alleged perpetrator, who appeared to have ultimately ended his own life rather than face the consequences of his actions.
Lockdown restrictions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have seen reports of GBV skyrocket, with numerous helplines reporting increased distress calls from women stuck in abusive relationships and left with little options for escape.
But as the focus remains on women as victims of these social ills, the silent anguish of men who are often driven to violence by underlying conditions is seldom mentioned in the same conversations.
“I thought about the mental health of the perpetrator,” said Senne.
“I’m not discarding what happened to the the victim, but this speaks to the narrative that we seem to also be ignoring as a nation about how the statistics on suicide are escalating and it refers to the entrenched patriarchy and belief in traditional systems that men, when they have issues, their outlet is to exert power on somebody who is much weaker than them. This is often their significant other.”
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, 18 men commit suicide in South Africa every day while an average of 230 serious suicide attempts were reported monthly.