Durban, South Africa – On Saturday, August 29, thousands of South Africans marched in opposition to rising rates of sexual and gender based violence (GBV). Protesters marched in at least four different cities including Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria.
Unicorn Riot was in Durban to cover a small demonstration of about 50-100 youths. Protesters gathered at Durban’s beachfront Suncoast casino and proceeded to march to city hall.
South Africa has long been plagued by its issues with sexual and gender based violence. Statistically it ranks among the highest in the world with regards to rape and domestic violence. Actual statistics are likely much worse due to the fact that sexual and gender based crimes are rarely reported by its victims.
These recorded statistics have only gotten worse since the introduction of coronavirus lockdown measures in March. This has led to numerous demonstrations across the country demanding an end to GBV and more government accountability with regards to these crimes.
While most protests ended peacefully, in Cape Town there were at least 18 arrests after protesters clashed with police. GBV protesters were inadvertently joined by another protest demonstration dubbed ‘bikers against farm murders and racism’.
At some point the bikers and anti-GBV protesters converged and police reacted violently when bikers appeared to be trying to push through a police barricade.
Increasing rates of rural crimes or ‘farm murders’ has continued to fuel unsubstantiated claims of ‘white genocide’; a common talking point of various white supremacist organizations around the world.
While it is true that rates of rural and urban crime are rising in South Africa. There is currently no proof that rural people – specifically white ‘Afrikaners’ – are being targeted exclusively because of their skin color.
It’s unclear whether this unlikely convergence was a planned occurrence, or simply a coincidence. Many anti-GBV protesters were quick to distance themselves from the bikers, with some even claiming that the bikers were purposelessly baiting the police so that they would attack the anti-GBD protesters.
As crime statistics, corruption and economic decay continue to grow, it’s likely that these protests will also grow and become more intertwined. The recent ‘Move One Million’ protest movement is an example of such political convergence. Protesters under its banner have rallied against the issues of GBV, racism and corruption in South Africa.
It remains to be seen whether these protests movements will be successful in their aims. What is certain is that if these issues persist, South Africa can expect many more protests and political disturbances to come.