Late last week, South Africa was harbouring hope of finding missing 18-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana. She had disappeared on Saturday after leaving her residence in Claremont, Cape Town, to visit the post office. On Monday, all that hope, and the #BringNeneHome campaign that inspired it disintegrated.
As the clock ticks over to 10pm on Monday evening, Twitter’s a spider’s web of hashtags highlighting the country’s history of violent crimes against women. They’re all dire. #RIPUyinene. #EnoughIsEnough. #SAShutdown.
But one stands out as the most appalling: #AmINext.
“The most stressful thing about #AmINext is that you could literally be next, it’s not just a #, it’s our sad reality and I’m fucken[sic] terrified,” wrote one woman, as the hashtag began trending across the country on Monday.
It might be another hashtag, but it also represents the horrific reality of daily life for millions of women living in South Africa.
The most stressful thing about #AmINext is that you could literally be next, it’s not just a # , it’s our sad reality and I’m fucken terrified ������
“Being a woman in South Africa is a death sentence,” one user quotes.
Many feel the same way.
I can’t take uber. I can’t go to campus. I can’t be out late or too early. I can’t be in a restaurant. I can’t be in a public space. I can’t be in a post office. I can’t be at work. I can’t be in a church. I can’t be in my own home. I can’t be in a park. I can’t be in a club.
Earlier on Monday, a Grade R girl was kidnapped from her school in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng. The kidnappers are now requesting a ransom of R2-million in exchange for the girl.
A day earlier, 14-year-old Janika Mallo was found dead, lying face down in her grandmother’s backyard. Her skull was struck by a “concrete block”. The gruesome report by IOL suggested that she may have also been raped.
There are so many more stories of suffering.
Twitter users on Monday took the opportunity to highlight other missing persons across South Africa, using the trending hashtags.
But #AmINext is more than just text on a screen or the beginnings of another protest movement.
It’s a distressing, foreboding cloud of fear that hangs over women in this country every day. It’s a conversation that has to be followed by tangible action. It should earmark the beginning of this 25-year-old country’s attempt to fix itself.
“Am I next?” is a question that no woman should ever have to ask.
Camper by day, run-and-gunner by night, Andy is editor at Memeburn and prefers his toast like his coffee -- dark and crunchy. Specialising in spotting the next big Instagram cat star, Andy also dabbles in smartphone and game reviews over on Gearburn.
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