BREDASDORP, South Africa — As Anene Booysen lay dying, she whispered to her medics the name of the man who had assaulted her and left her lying in the dirt on a construction site, her bowels spilling from her abdomen.
“Zwai,” Ms. Booysen, 17, told at least two people before she died. Zwai — the nickname of a close friend, Jonathan Davids — and his friends had done this to her, she said.
The next day, the police arrested Mr. Davids, 22, and another man, charging them with rape and murder.
The attack, in February, produced such revulsion and outrage that it quickly became a national symbol of the epidemic of violence against women in South Africa, much as other recent cases have forced national soul-searching on sexual violence plaguing India, Egypt and Brazil.
In some cases, appellate court judges set aside guilty verdicts because they simply do not believe the victim.With the swift arrest of two suspects, hopes were high that the attack on Ms. Booysen would be prosecuted quickly. But just as the trial was about to start last week, the prosecutors made a dramatic announcement. Despite Ms. Booysen’s dying declaration, they did not have enough evidence to prosecute Mr. Davids, and he was set free. […]
Analysts point to the history and culture of South Africa, a deeply patriarchal society that devalues crimes against women and where 19 years after the end of apartheid the criminal justice system is still struggling to transform itself from a security force aimed mainly at protecting the white minority into a professional crime-fighting organization.
The police do not take rape allegations seriously and fail to perform basic detective work, like collecting forensic evidence, said Lisa Vetten, a researcher who worked on the Mpumalanga study. Victims are intimidated by perpetrators, who are quickly released on bail. Prosecutors shy away from taking tough cases, especially those where physical evidence is not available.
In some cases, appellate court judges set aside guilty verdicts because they simply do not believe the victim. Two young men in Limpopo Province were convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl in the bushes near her home in 2007. The girl had been walking to a public telephone when the two men waylaid her, forced her into the bushes and took turns assaulting her, according to the appeals court record.
But in 2012, an appellate court judge set aside the conviction because her account of the assault “has some defects which cannot be ignored.” The victim had failed to run away or scream to passers-by, the judge said. She made up the story about being raped, the judge reasoned, to explain the bleeding from the loss of her virginity. […]
Though much ink has been spilt on Beijing’s rising economic presence in Africa, few have written about the continent’s most recent up and coming player: Brazil. It’s not clear why commentators have ignored such important geopolitical developments. Under Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva as well as his protégé Dilma Rousseff, Brazil has been conducting a big push into Africa which could have far reaching consequences.
Brazil’s rise on the international stage has not escaped notice by the American right. Recently, a columnist at Henry Kissinger’s National Interest wrote that one cannot overlook “Brazil’s inheritance of the Portuguese Empire’s mantle in Africa”.
To an extent, Brazil’s push into Africa is only natural. With the financial downturn taking its toll in most nations of the world, Brazil sees the Sub-Saharan region as one of the few bright spots for economic growth. Concerned that the eurozone crisis may pose a financial threat to her country, Rousseff has placed great importance on Brazil’s African expansion. Indeed, Brazil’s trade with Africa has snowballed, from just $4bn in 2000 to more than $27bn in 2011. In a sign of the times, Rousseff recently travelled personally to South Africa, Mozambique and Angola in an effort to shore up economic co-operation.
With the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington is turning its sights elsewhere. Quietly, the Obama administration is building up a vast array of military resources in West Africa, and specifically in Portuguese-speaking Lusophone countries. Reportedly, the Pentagon wants to establish a monitoring station in the Cape Verde islands, while further south in the Gulf of Guinea U.S. ships and personnel are patrolling local waters. Concerned lest it draw too much attention to itself, the Pentagon has avoided constructing large military installations and focused instead on a so-called “lily pad” strategy of smaller bases. In São Tomé and Príncipe, an island chain in the Gulf of Guinea and former Portuguese colony, the Pentagon may install one such “under the radar” base, and U.S. Navy Seabees are already engaged in construction work at the local airport.
Just why has the Obama administration invested so much time and effort in this corner of the globe? To be sure, controlling remote “lily pads” may come in handy in the battle against Islamist militants operating farther inland in such countries as Mali and Niger. Washington also wants to counteract drug smuggling emanating from West Africa, a volatile and politically unstable region. Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, has in recent years turned into a cocaine hub, and the United Nations has called the country a “narco-state.” Guinea-Bissau is geographically situated at Africa’s most westerly point, and South American smugglers are thought to transport drug shipments from here on to Cape Verde and then to Europe.
A deadly and well-coordinated attack by Boko Haram on a military compound and prison in northern Nigeria this week follows ‘unprecedented’ April attack that killed some 200 people.
Members of the Boko Haram militant group allegedly stormed a military compound and prison in northeastern Nigeria this week, killing dozens and freeing more than 100 prisoners. The coordinated attack is the latest in a series of violent assaults that have taken place since war broke out in 2009 between the extremist Islamist group and the Nigerian military, and observers say neither side shows sign of deescalating.
“Heavily armed Boko Haram terrorists” launched the attack, which killed prison guards, policemen, soldiers, and civilians, according to Musa Sagir, the military spokesman in Maiduguri. According to Agence France-Presse, the militants were reportedly wearing military uniforms during the attack.
This week’s violence follows closely on the heels of what Human Rights Watch called an “unprecedented” attack in April in the town of Baga. Some 200 people were estimated killed and thousands of homes were destroyed.
More than 130 people have been killed in the latest outbreak of tribal clashes in western Sudan’s Darfur region, a tribal leader said on Friday.
“Fighting was going on until last night and from our side we have 37 dead,” said the leader of the Beni Halba tribe, who claimed that more than 100 members of the rival Gimir group were also killed.
A Gimir official could not immediately be reached.
The Beni Halba leader, who declined to be named, said a land dispute caused the fighting in Edd Al Fursan, about 100km southwest of the South Darfur state capital Nyala.
“This is our land and those people are living on it,” he said.
Competition for resources, from water to gold, is a key driver of conflict in Darfur, where ethnic rebels in Sudan’s far-western region rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003.
While the worst of the violence has long passed, rebel-government battles continue along with tribal disputes, inter-Arab fighting, kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes.
Resolution 2100 has French troops replaced by blue helmets and at least half the UN force will be from Africa. Al Qaeda-linked militants are still fighting in Mali’s northern mountains.
The United Nations Security Council today unanimously approved the creation of a 12,600-strong peacekeeping force for Mali.
The pending arrival of blue helmets to the country is a sign that France, its African allies, and the broader international community are eager for the next phase of an intervention that began in January as a limited air campaign against Islamist rebels, but quickly escalated into a full-scale ground war.
Resolution 2100, proposed by France, calls for a force that would consist of 11,200 troops as well as 1,440 police to stabilize a country rocked by political instability and war over the last year.
Though the French-led intervention initially succeeded in driving the rebels from the towns and cities once under their control, serious questions remain regarding the extent to which northern Mali has actually been secured.
In the wake of several attacks - including suicide bombings - on Mali’s northern cities, both outside analysts and Malians wonder if the Islamist rebels have been defeated.
Tthere is no Arab Apartheid Week on American campuses, but there should be. Slavery, in its most barbaric form, still exists in the Arab world and there is no Exodus in sight either. A shocking article for Passover.
Israel Apartheid Week has come and gone this year on many American campuses. It was, of course, a hoax: However much one says that Arabs in Israel suffer, and whoever is to blame for that alleged suffering, there is no apartheid in Israel.
Meanwhile, however, in Sudan and Mauritania, racist Arab societies enslave blacks. Today. Most of the slaves are African Muslims. Yet there is no Arab Apartheid Week on American campuses. Why not?
One might think American student activists would be upset about Mauritania, the West African country with the largest population of black slaves in the world - estimates range from 100,000 to more than a half-million. In Mauritania, slaves are used for labor, sex and breeding. The wholly owned property of their masters, they are passed down through generations, given as wedding gifts or exchanged for camels, trucks, guns or money.
Surely, life is not so good in a Palestinian Arab refugee camp- no matter who is to blame, but it’s undeniably a whole lot worse for Mauritanian slaves. According to a Human Rights Watch/Africa report, routine punishments for slaves in Mauritania - for the slightest fault - include beatings, denial of food and prolonged exposure to the sun, with hands and feet tied together. More serious infringement of the master’s rule (in American slave-owning parlance, “getting uppity”) can lead to prolonged tortures known as “the camel treatment,” in which the slave’s body is slowly torn apart; the”insect treatment,” in which tiny desert insects are inserted and sealed into the ear canal until the slave is driven mad; and”burning coals,” a torture not fit to describe in a family newspaper.
Perhaps the reason for silence on campuses about these things is that the story of black slaves and their Arab masters remains unknown there. It would, of course, be a sensitive topic: slavery has existed in Mauritania since the 12th century, when Arab tribes from the Arabian Peninsula invaded and conquered North Africa. Raiders then stormed African villages to the south, pillaging, enslaving and converting the indigenous peoples to Islam.
Looters and gunmen roamed the streets of Central African Republic’s capital Bangui on Tuesday as rebels and regional peacekeepers struggled to restore order two days after a coup plunged the mineral-rich country into chaos.
The ousting of President Francois Bozize and the political turmoil around it has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis in the former French colony - and embarrassed regional power South Africa which had sent troops to defend the government.
About 5,000 Seleka rebel fighters poured into the capital on Sunday, brushing aside a 400-strong South African force which attempted to block their path. At least 13 South African soldiers were killed and 27 wounded.
Rebel leader and self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia - who had accused Bozize of breaking past peace accords - on Monday asked regional peacekeepers stationed in the country to help him restore order.
Rebels in Central African Republic seized the riverside capital Bangui in fierce fighting on Sunday, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee and sowing confusion over who ruled the mineral-rich heart of Africa.
At least nine South African soldiers were killed trying to prevent the rebels taking Bangui, a Reuters witness said, dealing a blow to Pretoria’s attempt to stabilize the chaotic central African nation and assert its influence in the region.
The Seleka rebel coalition resumed hostilities on Thursday in the former French colony and quickly swept south to Bangui with the aim of ousting Bozize, whom it accused of breaking a January peace deal to integrate its fighters into the army.
“We have taken the presidential palace,” Eric Massi, a Seleka spokesman, told Reuters by telephone early on Sunday.
Government officials confirmed the rebels had captured the city of more than 600,000 people, which lies on the banks of the Oubangi river bordering Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Hague court on Monday dropped charges against former Public Service head Francis Muthaura, saying that key witnesses had either been killed, died or bribed or were too afraid to testify.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that she was unable to get witnesses to prove charges of crimes against humanity against Mr Muthaura.
Presiding Judge Ozaki wanted to know what the withdrawal of the charges against Mr Muthaura would mean for Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, who was charged alongside Mr Muthaura.
Mr Kenyatta was at the weekend declared winner of Monday’s presidential election.
But other cases against President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President-elect William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang would proceed. She said the prosecution had new evidence against the President-elect.