[I know this a somewhat delayed but anyhow, here-goes a summary...]
The story: A 35-year old female doctor (currently specialising in paediatrics) was raped while on a weekend call at Pelonomi State Hospital in Bloemfontein on Saturday (6th Nov 2a.m.). According to news sources she was attacked with a brick by three men, on a staircase; and was subsequently raped. All attackers where arrested 3hours after the incident and were expected to appear in court on Tuesday (9th Nov). Read the full story here and here.
The medical students of the University of the Free State, with a strong desire to express their resentment and support for the victim, decided to go to court on Tuesday morning in a form of ‘dumb protest’. Approximately, 100 Kovsie medical students (*do you think we were more?*) gathered outside the court in the hope that their ‘passive movement’ will ‘speak louder than words’. The main intention was to show support for the doctor and at the same time silently protesting against abuse/crime. One of the students on encouraging others to join: “...if it’s what we do that defines us, then, let’s make our presence felt by this support movement”.
The entrance of the court gradually became crowded with the different organisations/representatives that came to show support.
The nursing staff came out strongly with their mini-protest; ‘toi-toi – ing’ with placards. Their energetic shouting of ‘Amandla’ and ‘Awethu’ in response still resounds in our ears. (‘Amandla’ = power, ‘Awethu’ = will be ours / belongs to us). Some nurses encouraged medical students to join in their protest - “Let your voices be heard” said one nurse; but the students were firm on silent support only. The nurses handed over a memorandum requesting ‘NO BAIL’ for the criminals.
Amongst other representatives were:
- · “Bikers against abuse”
- · South African Medical Association (SAMA)
- · African National Congress (the current ruling political party), Women’s league
General feelings of students:
- Combination of shock, disgust, pity and fear.
- · Students fear a similar heinous crime recurring and expect the officials to make changes that would ensure a safe working environment. (It is unfortunate that incidents like these have to occur before safety is evaluated).
- · Safety at the Pelonomi Hospital was further questioned when a random man was found sleeping in doctor’s quarters. This occurred after the rape incident – something must be done!
In addition to the above mentioned opinions and concerns; I think South Africa needs to review its punishment for serious crimes. Perhaps harsh punishment would deter future would-be criminals?
*can you spot me in any of the pictures?* :P
What are your thoughts?