Reeva Steenkamp, Amanda Tweyi, Karabo Mokoena, Zolile Khumalo, Siam Lee and Anene Booysen. These are just a few of the women who have made it into the news for losing their lives at the hands of men, including intimate partners. A list that is six names too long. A list of a mere fraction of the number of women murdered daily. Sadly, there are thousands more unreported lost lives, as South Africa’s femicide stats remain alarming.

Some of these murders took place years ago, but the others have all happened within the past 12 months. A 21-year-old Mangosuthu University of Technology student Zolile Khumalo was shot and killed on Tuesday night by Thabani Mzolo whom she was reportedly involved with. This news broke the same day Sandile Mantsoe was found guilty in the Johannesburg High Court for the 2017 murder of his ex-girlfriend Karabo Mokoena. Khumalo was the same age and shot in a residence room much like Amanda Tweyi who was shot in 2014 at a Rhodes University residence by an ex, who then turned the gun on himself. And so the grief for the loss of these women as well as concern for our safety prevails over our sense of autonomy every time we leave the house.

According to Africa Check, South African police recorded a total of 14,333 murders between April and December 2016 – 1713 of these were women. This therefore works out to a woman being murdered every four hours in our country, where at least half of these women die at the hands of their intimate partners. To supplement these findings, researchers from the South African Medical Research Council’s Gender and Health Research Unit found that in cases where a perpetrator had been identified, 57.1% of the murders were by an intimate partner.

When the news of 22-year old Karabo Mokoena’s murder broke last year, Minister Nathi Mthethwa mentioned at a femicide imbizo that ‘South Africa’s femicide rate is five times more than the global rate.’ The claim was backed up by data from the World Health Organization’s Violence and Injury Prevention Programme;

‘The global rate of femicide for 2015 was 2.4 per 100,000 women. South Africa’s rate for the same year was 9.6 per 100,000 women. This would mean that South Africa’s rate is four times that of the global average when considering the latest estimates. When actual data for 2010 is considered, we see that the country’s femicide rate was then 5.1 times higher than the global average.’

It’s unfortunately highly likely that the number has since increased. While the last two women (Lee and Booysen) on that list were not murdered by men they were in romantic relationships with, their deaths rattled the nation. Their murders reminded us once again that women’s bodies are treated like disposable goods, slaughtered with far less dignity than a ritual animal. Perhaps, then, women are the sacrificial lambs to the ritual of toxic, violent masculinity, where, once convicted, a man exits the kraal (court) with peace and gang signs in the air to signal to the patriarchal ancestors that ‘it is done’, while grieving family members watch behind a curtain of tears.

The South African Police Service’s national commissioner General Khehla John Sitole said yesterday that ‘we are confident that this lengthy sentence handed down on Montsoe will serve as a deterrent to those who may have any intention to commit crimes against women and children.’ A reassuring-sounding statement, but until gender-based violence isn’t a daily headline and until justice is done daily in courtrooms, we can only wish peace upon the families who have already lost their daughters.