ELEVEN days before National Women's Day 2009, due to be commemorated this Sunday, a young woman, Matsie Mmola, 20, was pounced pon and cold-heartedly brought down in predatory fashion by attackers, who raped her, mutilated her and slit her throat.
Her death and burial passed with inexplicable, but usual acceptance. This typifies the times we live in. No shock, outcry or national sense of shame was expressed.
We are either a nation that has become accustomed to the regularity of such horror or desensitised by the criminal frequency that sees many women's lives ended and their bodies defiled without demonstrable repercussions to those behind such dastardly acts.
The heartless, cold-bloodedness and ease with which Matsie's life was brought to a cruel end, coupled with attempts to stash her body in a sewerage pipe, could not have come from people who were born, breast-fed and nurtured by the caring and loving hands of mothers that populate a normal society. The act simply cuts mercy to the bone.
Any mother, who has knowledge of her son taking delight in such acts and who remains unmoved and silent, can only be living with a dead conscience and devoid of the maternal instinct that true mothers are blessed with. Any man, aware of a son capable of this worst form of invasion visited on a woman, who turns a deaf ear and a blind eye to live happily, will be no more than a dead man walking and an incorrigible stranger to honour.
But what can be said of a community which, woken up to such beastly acts,by wayward sons within its rank, that remain unconcerned? And what ounce of morality would be left of a democratic state that swears to a better life for all, but shows no fighting revulsion when the life of an ordinary school-going citizen is laid to waste in a sewerage pipe?
A people-centred government, in a constitution deemed to be the world's best, should show a fighting chance for each and every one of its citizens, be they ordinary or extraordinary women. Failure to act makes the commemoration of National Women's Day nothing more than an annual ritual of no significance.
Being brought up by a mother who lost her husband too early to experience the joys of two parents, I have come to appreciate the maternal guiding hand that has given me the true traits of being a man.
These traits point to extolling women rather than debasing them, treasuring sisterhood with reciprocal brotherhood, and to value the kind of women inspirational leadership that does not expect blind fellowship from men or deny their potential to be just as good. Summed in one word, all these traits mean chivalry. To date, I am as comfortable under women leadership as my life is in the proud castle of my black skin that firmly defines my politics in a racist world.
From women-change agents, I have long ceased to bask in the glory of other men, but to cast my own shade. If, from that shade, an up-and-coming humble dignity of a boy-child looms to claim a share in the lessons of exemplary good men, then our troubled world is destined to be in the hands of men who will honour it with their footprints by which to be followed rather than fingerprints by which to be condemned as evidenced in the cruel end of Matsie's life. For streets to be safe to walk again, National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele, Matsie's death had better not pass as normal.