The protests outside the Johannesburg courthouse have been ongoing for several weeks now, fueled by growing frustration among women’s rights groups and sex workers over what they believe is an inadequate criminal justice response to a suspected serial killer. The man at the centre of these demonstrations, Sifiso Mkhwanazi, has been charged with the murder of one of the victims and is currently standing trial.
Despite mounting pressure from activists and members of civil society, Mkhwanazi’s defence team has rejected attempts to apply for bail while DNA test results are pending.
Regardless of Mkhwanazi’s guilt or innocence, however, it is clear that his case has become a lightning rod for public outrage over sexual violence in South Africa. The tragic circumstances surrounding these killings underscore both the risk faced by vulnerable populations such as sex workers as well as broader systemic weaknesses within South Africa’s criminal justice system.