The Violence Must Stop
August was Women’s Month. The 9th August was Women’s Day. By the beginning of September our city and more particularly our Claremont community was in mourning over the murder of UCT student, Uyinene Mrwetyana. We were not only in mourning for her, but others too: Jesse Hesse, Leighandre Jengles, Janika Malio, Lynette Volschenk, and Meghan Cremer. And more than that, we were in mourning for all women who have faced violence and abuse at the hands of men.
For many in our community the rape and murder of Uyinene was particularly shocking because it occurred in our Clareinch Post Office – a place many of us have frequented. This gross injustice flowed like a river of pain into our community, our city and our nation. It reminded us of a deep societal trauma with which we just … live. The abnormal reality … is normalised. This time we entered in. We need to do it every time, but it is exhausting and debilitating. We need to feel every time, but the strong emotions and high anxiety are sapping. We need to gather every time, but the large crowds and concentrated focus is not sustainable.
South Africans live with the presence of trauma and fear every day. I would suggest a couple of practical and spiritual responses:
- Lament: this kind of prayer pours out of deep wrestling with God over injustice and hurt. It faces the painful emotions and cries out for mercy. It is a way to voice our grief and sorrow over the difficult things in our lives and in our country (Amos 8:10, Isaiah 3:26, 19:8, Jeremiah 4:8, 9:10).
- Petition: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). God hears and answers our humble requests. He loves to hear his children pray. Pray for God to help us to find hope and healing. Pray for yourself and pray for others.
- Talk: find someone to talk to about how you are feeling. Note: the point is not to rev each other up by sharing all the bad news stories you hear on the wireless (or read on twitter). Tell someone how you are feeling: I am feeling sad and vulnerable; I am feeling distressed and scared. And then commit your feelings to God, prayer and ask him to help you to trust in his strength, grace, sovereign knowledge and power.
- Speak up: if and when you have the opportunity, be an advocate for truth. You can’t fight (or win) every battle against injustice, but as God gives you strength, you can speak with bravery, act with justice and provoke with kindness.
- Find help: If you have been or are being abused there is help. When you engage the church leadership of ECCC you WILL be assisted in whatever way we can (this could include any of the women or men on the leadership). There are resources within our church, and there are many more outside of our church (counselling, support, places of safety etc.) You will be heard and you will be helped.
Our Claremont Ministers’ Fellowship organised a Candlelit Prayer Vigil on the 5th September to pray for the friends and family of Uyinene, for all women who have faced abuse and for our community that is hurting at this time. The Claremont Churches have also hung banners outside each of the churches (see photo) with the statement: END the VIOLENCE against WOMEN – NOW!!.
This is not the only issue facing our country presently. Another that must be mentioned is the serious xenophobic attacks in Gauteng recently. Please also pray for this situation. The voice of Uyinene will never be heard again and that is why we cannot remain silent.