Students give lie to Christopher Hope's despair
Christopher Hope takes an unfair swipe at South Africans, including some well-meaning university students, in his analysis of the country's reaction to violent crime ("The South African shots heard all around the world", March 1).
On February 20, more than 5 000 staff members and students flooded the central plaza of the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus to protest against violent crime.
It was UCT's second such protest in less than two weeks, following a candlelight vigil organised by UCT students on February 12 in response to the brutal rape, mutilation and murder of teenager Anene Booysen. Similar protests have taken place around the country, including on other university campuses.
Hope points to a magazine cover designed by UCT students as an example of what he refers to as the country's nonchalance about violent crime. In fact, the magazine was a spoof of Hollywood's treatment of apocalyptic fantasies, which often feature zombies and are always violent. The editorial team had no way of knowing that the publication's annual street-sales date would fall between the two tragedies involving Booysen and Reeva Steenkamp.
Contrary to Hope's account, some supporters of the magazine – in particular, parents of young children – were indeed "fussed" by the cover. Nevertheless, magazine sales raised about R500 000 to support the mobile medical clinics and school-tutoring programmes in disadvantaged communities. These programmes are sponsored, organised and manned by student volunteers with the assistance of professionals – many of whom also serve on their own time, without pay. – Patricia Lucas, manager of communications and media liaison, UCT