Addressing hundreds of his subjects during Umkhosi weLembe (formerly known as Shaka’s Day) in KwaDukuza, North Coast, on Tuesday, the king said that those found guilty of rape should be castrated.
According to him, it would be better if once a man was found to have raped, he should be handed to “men like us” to cut off his manhood.
“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,” he said.
The king expressed worry following a revelation by South African officials that over 41,000 people were raped in the country from April 2018, amounting to more than one rape every 15 minutes.
“Information shows that 41% of people raped in the country are children, and of these crimes only 4% are prosecuted. Why such a small percentage?
“This means that people are not being prosecuted. There is something wrong somewhere in our country or the leadership,” he lamented.
King Zwelithini said since circumcision is already part of the country’s culture, it would not be out of place to move a step further to castrate people who perpetrate rape of the vulnerable people.
“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”.
However, a gender activist, Nonhlanhla Skosana said the king’s suggestion will be an affront to the South African laws.
“injuring people or taking violent action against perpetrators would never solve the issue.
“If you read the Sexual Offence’s Act, even objects are also used, and by law that is classified as rape,” Skosana stated.
Sibongile Mthembu, the director of Wise Collective, a non-governmental organisation dealing with sexual offences at workplaces, said the king’s call might “sound nice”, but it was a breach of human rights.
“I don’t think that would be feasible in the country because that would take us back.
“It might be a quick solution, but it won’t work because our constitution does not allow it as we have to exercise ubuntu,” she said.
She added that the society needed to find ways to help people to change.
“We still have prisons that have not been working properly as people are not getting sentences that are harsh enough to make sure that they don’t continue with their wrongs.
“Before we go to extremes, we should start with things that will work,” said Mthembu.