CURRENT AFFAIRS, HEALTH

There is no freedom or innocence

By Tammy Sutherns

The breeze in your hair, the coins clanging in your pocket and later, the sweet taste of a fruity lollipop, the cold against your tongue or maybe even a chocolate bar melting in your mouth – it didn’t matter, the choice was yours.

Being allowed to walk up to the shops all on our own was like a childhood rite of passage for us. My brother and I reveled in the freedom, clambering up the hill with our small change. We were never much for driving somewhere when we could walk – a rare treat in South African neighbourhoods littered with loiterers and horror stories. Our mom would sometimes ask us to nip up and grab some bread, which weren’t some of our most pleasant trips, but were safe – and free –  to do so nonetheless.

That rite of passage is one that is unfortunately tainted for many kids. I met with the Midrand police on Monday for my weekly crime report and learned that two sisters – aged 12 and 10 – were allegedly raped while journeying up to Noordwyk Spar to grab something for their parents at the weekend.

The sisters were allegedly picked up by a local security company vehicle, where the guard told them that he was escourting them to the Spar as he had seen them stealing the day before.

He drove them around for a while before raping both sisters in the car on a road in Blue Hills. He then dropped them off at home with the promise to kill them if they told their parents.

The security guard has been arrested and the police are following up on investigations.

There is simply nothing more that I can say, the facts speak for themselves and are sick enough without any added emotion.

But I will say this – if that security guard is guilty it means that he used his power as a man in uniform, an officer of what young girls may have believed to be the law, to break their childhood innocence, their freedom to step outside of the perimeters of their home and their rights as children and as human beings.

How will a parent ever ask their kids to run up to the shops again while there are people in this country who crave and thrive on power and control, using little children to play out a sick idea that they are real men?

As Jen has said time and time again, we need to be addressing the issue of the rapists, not just the rape victims. Prevention is, after all, better than cure.

And my heart goes out to those little Noordwyk sisters who will never be able to taste ice cream again freely or safely.

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