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On Tuesday 9 May, a tweet was published by a user dubbed Steph and began circulating on social media.
“My friend has been missing since about the 28th April. If you have seen her please let me know,” it read, asking users for more information regarding Karabo Mokoena, who had been declared missing in Johannesburg two weeks prior.
Prominent tweeters including EFF leader Julius Malema, and City Press journalist Andi Makinana retweeted the post, helping to propel it trending status with over 10 000 retweets accrued in just over 48 hours.
My friend has been missing since about the 28th April. If you have seen her please let me know 🙏🏽☹️ pic.twitter.com/UQ0kNqfKRb
— Steph (@Stephy_Leong) May 9, 2017
This tweet, although highlighting the issue of missing people in South Africa, also showed the humanity lurking on the often-pessimistic social network that is Twitter. But today, a new hashtag began trending: #RIPKarabo.
A Facebook post published at 3.40am Thursday morning by Karabo’s father Tshepo, explained that Karabo was found dead, presumably killed and burned by her boyfriend.
“The boyfriend confession. He killed and burned by daughter,” the post reads.
The post has since accrued over 70 shares and 140 comments on Facebook. But sentiment has also spread to Twitter.
#RIPKarabo trended on Twitter Thursday as users mourned another woman slain in South Africa
Employing the hashtag #RIPKarabo, users expressed their condolences to Karabo’s friends and familiy, but also joined in a dialogue about the treatment of women in South Africa.
M&G columnist Khaya Dlanga lead the conversation, reminding South Africans that the country has the “highest rate of women murdered by their partner in the world”.
“A woman is killed every 8 hours,” he adds.
R.I.P. Karabo. I don’t even know how I can say she was at peace after being murdered, allegedly by her boyfriend. #RIPKarabo
— Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) May 11, 2017
South Africa has the highest rate of women murdered by their partner in the world. A woman is killed every 8 hours.#RIPKarabo
— Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) May 11, 2017
A number of others joined in the conversation, calling on South African men to “do better”.
Poor father who spent his life transforming lives of boys into men with a hopeful future, has now lost a daughter to a sick man. #RipKarabo💔
— Kgomotso Christopher (@kgchristopher) May 11, 2017
We need to do better, there are no excuses! #RIPKarabo
— Siya Beyile (@SiyaBeyile) May 11, 2017
I am genuinely afraid. You think you know people… 💔
I am so sad for her family. #RipKarabo
— Missy on a Mission (@MissyRobertsxo) May 11, 2017
“He will get bail. He will be out in a year. We will continue to burn & bleed,” one user expressed.
He will get bail. He will be out in a year. We will continue to burn & bleed. To be a black woman is a crime. They want us dead #RIPKarabo
— Portia Gumede (@portiagumedesa) May 11, 2017
“Broken men raise broken men,” another user wrote.
Broken men, raise broken men. we as men need to start having conversations on how to break this vicious cycle #RIPKarabo
— A U B R E Y ⭕ (@KingAubz) May 11, 2017
As so often is the case with trending topics, another sub-hashtag developed soon after.
#MenIsTrash also began trending alongside #RIPKarabo Thursday morning
#MenIsTrash began appearing prominently on timelines alongside #RIPKarabo Thursday morning. One of the tag’s more shared tweets accrued over 700 retweets.
— SkatanaSaVaal (@Kele_tebza) May 11, 2017
Others, including men, agreed with the hashtag’s message.
I’m a man who knows #MenAreTrash
— Dr Naks (@Tshi_nucks) May 11, 2017
— Zukile Sirayi (@Zucsss) May 11, 2017
Many users however felt that the use of the hashtag, and the conversation it entails, was inappropriate for now.
“Let’s not debate the #MenAreTrash hashtag for now, let’s just take the bullet until the time is right to engage further,” tweeted SABC journalist Mweli Masilela.
— Mweli Masilela (@mwelimasilela) May 11, 2017
Others shared similar sentiment.
#MenAreTrash I for one refuse to paint all men with same brush. Men are wonderful creatures
— Lindie Nyembezi (@LindiswaNyembez) May 11, 2017
According to Karabo Mokoena’s friend Steph, Karabo’s boyfriend has been arrested.
South Africa’s minster of police Fikile Mbalula didn’t specifically comment on #RIPKarabo, but did note that the department has improved response times for missing persons cases.
“There is NO WAITING PERIOD in reporting missing persons. We have changed this to resolve these cases quicker,” he tweeted.
There is NO WAITING PERIOD in reporting missing persons. We have changed this to resolve these cases quicker. https://t.co/q8pFw8VaZG
— RSA Min of Police (@MbalulaFikile) May 11, 2017
While that tweet’s comforting for South Africans still awaiting news of their missing loved ones, it doesn’t offer much comfort to Karabo Mokoena’s.