I wish you could see what an impact you had on the womxn of South Africa.
I wish you didn’t have to be murdered for South Africa to take action against a problem that we’ve been facing for years.
I wish you could see how many womxn came together in support after we found out about your death.
I wish you could see how you have changed so many womxn’s lives over the course of a month. How womxn have become activists, and how a rage that was quiet for so long has been unleashed. How movements have started like #IWillNotBeNext which mounted pressure on the government to revisit the constitutional laws of this country. How we can’t have rapists being given 25 years in prison, and released 6 years later because of ‘good behaviour’.
I wish you could see how your self-expression on Instagram became a symbol for us. How “Women don’t owe you shit’ was a phrase quoted over and over again in our time of heartbreak.
I wish you could see that thousands of people rallied in front of parliament to protest gender-based violence and rape in the wake of your murder.
I wish it didn’t take your murder for action to be taken.
I wish we were safer in our schools, post offices, walking down the street and in our own homes.
But we’re fighting for it.
Fighting with pepper spray, with screaming that our bodies are our bodies, with calling out the people who hurt us and thought they could get away with it.
And we won’t stop fighting until we feel safe.
I never met you.
And I felt guilty for not crying when I heard about your death on Monday, 2 September 2019 in the hazy afternoon.
But after some counselling, I now understand that people grieve differently.
I realized how scared I was to protest and how emotionally paralyzed I was once the university shut down.
I felt guilty for referring to you as ‘Nene’ when I wasn’t your friend because your friends affectionately called you ‘Nene’.
But feeling guilty would get me nowhere, and I was done feeling sad.
The womxn in my life have supported me and I am so grateful.
I felt anger when womxn in my life came out with their personal stories of gender-based violence and how they felt like they couldn’t do anything because of shame and the consequences to follow from speaking out.
I know your soul is at rest and even though you are no longer with us physically, you are with us in spirit.
You are forever in our hearts as a fighter and an inspiration.
In hope and love,