Sjava. Image credit: discogs.com
A response to Andile Mngxitama’s “The Sjava precedent”
By Ayanda Tshazi
The “I believe her” principle is based on the realization by women that the courts are sexist and that the men who dominate the courts operate on the basis of a patriarchal bro-code. Women hold each other up so that when the court fails to give her justice, she at least knows someone believed her. Rape is an intimate crime. It’s hard to prove. The perpetrators are difficult to prosecute. A woman needs to know that a system failure does not erase her story or the validity of her claims.
What is happening to Sjava is mob justice because as a society we lack leadership, responsible discipline and education from black feminists. We are allowing the white media and institutions to elevate the crime of rape by black men to a status of its own to overshadow the structural causes of black on black violence. We are allowing the lynching of black men through media and institutions because we don’t have a plan. It’s free reign on the black man yet again.
In this case, Sjava has legal recourse against the unfair prejudice visited on his name and economic opportunities via a claim for damages. But he also understands that pursuing those will cause even further damage to his reputation because white media and institutions are a law unto themselves.
Both the complainant and accused here are caught in an anti-black system. No matter the tools they use, the system will work against them because they are black and not made for us.
We need alternatives outside of the existing matrix, or through revolutionary struggles to change the entire system.