South Africa’s Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini wants rapists to be castrated with a knife to serve as a deterrent to others.
The King was addressing hundreds of his subjects during Umkhosi weLembe (formerly known as Shaka’s Day) in KwaDukuza, North Coast when he made the call that the manhood of rapists should be chopped off.
His suggestion has, however, been criticised by gender-based violence activists, many of whom stress that castration will be a breach of law and human rights, reports IOL News.
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King Zwelithini, speaking in Zulu, said that it might be more effective that whenever a man is found to have raped a woman, they are handed over to “men like us” to be castrated.
“This would end this thing (rape),” said the king, adding that “this should be done in a way that would show the world that the Zulu nation does not tolerate this shame.”
The King’s concerns have mostly been fueled by the fact that South Africa is home to one of the highest rate of rape cases in the world, reports the BBC.
“Information shows that 41% of people raped in the country are children, and of these crimes only 4% are prosecuted. This means that people are not being prosecuted. This means there is something wrong somewhere in our country or in the leadership,” he said.
He added that “Since we do circumcision, this time we have to go beyond (in cutting). We should do this as part of honouring King Shaka who made the laws, the nation and respect. We should restore respect,” he said.
Prince Thulanu Zulu, spokesperson for Kind Zwelithini, according to IOL News, was unavailable to give further clarifications on the king’s comments.
However, Nonhlanhla Skosana, Sonke Gender Justice’s community education and mobilisation unit manager, has responded to the king’s strong-worded statements, asking that even though leaders are concerned about the rising numbers of rape cases, people should be “very sensitive.”
“They should be aligned to our constitution as we need to function under the human rights framework. So injuring people or taking violent action against perpetrators would never solve the issue,” said Skosana.
Sibongile Mthembu, the Director of Wise Collective, a non-governmental organisation dealing with sexual offences at workplaces, has also said that while the king’s call might “sound nice”, it would only take the nation back in time.
Also present at the event were former IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala and a number of provincial cabinet members.