Karabo Makoena, 22, went missing on the 28th April, and her body was found by police on the 29th – burnt and buried in a shallow grave. The news was confirmed, when a 27 year old man believed to be her boyfriend allegedly confessed to killing her and was arrested in Sandton. It has emerged that Mokoena had already opened an assault case against him. The man appeared in court on the 12th May 2017.
Mokoena’s friends circulated photos of her on twitter when she went missing, and also confirmed her death on social media. Messages of condolences have poured in for Mokoena and her family, but it was clear that women weren’t just sad; they were angry. While #RIPKarabo started trending on Twitter so did another hashtag: #MenAreTrash. The story of a woman being harmed by someone she loved and trusted cut deep with fellow South African women who shared stories of abuse, harassment, rape, navigating the world as a woman, and just men being dangerous in general.
The term given to killing a woman because of her gender is femicide, and it’s especially prevalent in South Africa. Mandy Weiner’s 2015 piece on femicide examined high profile cases of intimate partner femicide, such as Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani: “In South Africa … the rate of intimate femicide is at 57% … you are more likely to be killed by a lover than by a random stranger… It has got to the point that when a woman goes missing in South Africa, many of us instinctively suspect the partner. Why is this and what does it say about us as a nation that this is our default setting?”.
The phrase ‘men are trash’ is a reaction to the violence South African women experience every day on some level. Please note some of the following tweets mention stories of extreme violence.
You might not have murdered a woman. Or hit one. Or raped one. Or even harassed one. But #MenAreTrash still applies to you. For many reasons
— Lesego Tlhabi (@_Dame_) May 11, 2017
Men have a problem with #MenAreTrash because it admits that this is not the action of individuals but of a broader system of patriarchy
— spice delight (@Priyanka101) May 11, 2017
This is a thread about how I survived death #MenAreTrash
Frame1 morning after
Frame2 morning before pic.twitter.com/NeHyeg4MRD
— Alexandra Buki Deen (@BlackSnow99) May 11, 2017
— Thicc Shady (@decaf4U) May 8, 2017
Spoke to my gran about this whole #MenAreTrash thing.
She laughed and said “Sweety, the only thing that’s changed is now women speak up.”
— Aaleya Omar (@AaleyaOmar) May 11, 2017
With femicide being five times the international rate in South Africa, with one woman being murdered by someone she knows once every eight hours, it’s not surprising that this issue resonates with so many women.