Zapiro’s “latest rape cartoon” in the Daily Maverick, which was released Tuesday the 11th of April, created social media uproar. People found the drawing of President Zuma raping Lady Africa highly problematic. Zapiro said he simply used rape as a political metaphor as it “shocks” people. All in all, this shows us that rape is something that is normalised in South Africa even when South Africa has the highest rape statistics in the world. Despite this fact, rape is overlooked and turned into satire instead of the problem it is.
It was on the 11th of April that the Daily Maverick released Zapiro’s latest rape cartoon titled “she’s all yours, boss”. It shows the President Jacob Zuma zipping up his pants at the scene of a gang rape where minister David Mahlobo, social development minister Bathabile Dlhamini and the new age editor Moegsien Williams holds her down as one of the Gupta brothers get ready to rape South Africa which is drawn as a black womxn. This was his 6th cartoon in which rape was used as “satire” or a metaphor. Zuma raping Lady Justice is a well-known cartoon that also created controversy and anger. Zapiro completely ignores the cries of womxn and men to stop using rape as satire and continues to dim the heaviness of rape.
This is a harmful dialogue because it draws on +500 000 rape victims in South Africa per year that has become nothing but a statistic or “metaphor” in the eyes of people. Zuma’s shower head in the cartoon brings us back to the injustices of Khwezi. The shower head was drawn to find the “irony” in Zuma who said that one could shower to get rid of AIDS. Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo or known to us as Khwezi was the HIV rape victim of Zuma whom never got the justice she deserved even on her deathbed. Each article written about her made her seem like a liar. Like she deserved it. Like it was normal. And now Khwezi and our sisters are nothing but metaphors.
At the #Remember Khwezi protest, four womxn stood with boards saying “10 years later”, “Remember Khwezi”, “I am one in 3” and “Khanga”. They brought attention to Khwezi and the ignored rape culture in South Africa. The one in 3 means that one in every 3 womxn in South Africa is raped. This shows us the disgusting reality that we live in. This cartoon is drawn at a time in South Africa where rape is at its prime. Drawing on the recent events of the taxi rapes that occurred in both Jozi and Cape Town. Victims are finding it hard to find the help that they need from the police system and the justice system. A justice system that should be upheld by our president that happened to have 783 charges against him. A justice system that takes the side of the perpetrator instead of the victim.
It also takes a stab at the patriarchy in South Africa. One in which a man/ a CIS white man to be exact can draw the pains of a black womxn as being something less of what it is. It shows us how womxn especially black womxns’ suffering get pushed aside as being normal or just completely ignored. There are rape survivors like Khwezi that had to live with the fact that the person who raped her is allowed to carry on with their lives at the expense of rape victims not being believed. It’s strange how we live in a country that made a bigger deal out of cabinet reshuffling than it does rape. Or worse that they think they could possibly compare the two injustices.
Rape should never be normalized. Like the poster etched onto UCT’s bathroom walls and Jammies giving people “steps to take if they got raped or sexually assaulted”. But nowhere stating that rape is not okay. No lists given to rapists on why raping is not okay. It reminds us of every victim that was asked “what were you wearing?”, “why were you out so late?”, “how much did you have to drink?” It is our sister’s bodies used as target practice in a world that only aims only to hurt us.
Zapiro’s cartoon comparison of gang rape to political injustice is disgusting for a variety of reasons. For one, rape is and will never be a metaphor. It is rape, a gruesome and violent act that shouldn’t be compared to anything trivial. This cartoon was insensitive to the audience which includes victims and survivors of rape. It shrinks the problem of rape down to political injustices instead of the violent and life-altering act that it is. It forgets the thousands of rape victims that had to relive that moment while looking at the cartoon. It forgets the injustice of victims such as Khwezi. Surely there is another way to start a conversation instead of using the horrific experiences of many.
But I guess rape is just a metaphor right, Zapiro?