Tokai jogger’s death becomes racial spat

10 March 2016 - 19:21 By Aron Hyman

Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu has accused Western Cape police of being racially biased‚ saying that the murder of 16-year-old Franziska Blochliger in the Tokai forest was “getting attention” while the murder of 19-year-old Sinoxolo Mafevuka‚ from Khayelitsha‚ was not. Mafevuka’s half-naked body was found in a communal toilet in Town Two‚ Khayelitsha‚ on Tuesday last week. Shocked residents said her face had been covered with a jacket and her clothes stuffed in a cistern. No arrests have been made.On Monday‚ Blochliger was murdered while jogging in broad daylight in the Tokai Forest. Her body was found after a massive community search. Police suspect she was strangled. Three men were arrested in connection with the murder the following day‚ following community tipoffs. They are due to appear in court on Friday.The way in which the media has covered the two murders has sparked debate‚ with the Sonke Gender Justice Group saying there was an “imbalance” in police services.Sotyu visited the Khayelitsha Police Station on Thursday to get an update on the investigation.“If you guys communicated this [Mafevuka] case [to media] the way you are paying attention to the other [Blochliger] case‚ I wouldn't be here today‚” she said at a meeting with senior staff and detectives from the Khayelitsha policing cluster who are working on Mafevuka's case.“I wouldn't have received emails and telephone calls in my office if the community knew about what you are telling us.“The problem is it is only yourselves who know what is happening. Whereas when something happens in another area‚ with another race‚ you run to the media and say this is what is happening‚ as if you owe a certain race an excuse.“If cases like this happen‚ the whole of this country must know how are [they] are being treated.”“What we know is that Franziska is getting attention‚ that's all that we know. Because it's what we see in the media‚” she saidThe commander of Khayelitsha cluster police‚ General Johan Brand‚ rebutted Sotyu's claims‚ saying that the media had not reported on Mafevuka's case when police initially briefed them on it.“Yesterday there were guys sentenced to 18 years for robbery‚ we sent that communication to the media. They don't publish that. This is not a police problem or a cluster problem. It's the media that are selective on what they want to present.”Brand also refuted media reports that statements had not been taken in the Mafevuka case and that counselling had not been offered by police.“In the case docket there is the statement from one of the family members‚” he said.Provincial police communications head Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the fact that newspaper front pages had the Tokai murder as their headlines was not something police could control.“All the successes from all the stations get sent to the media but we have no power to dictate to the media what they put on the front page and what they put in a small article that looks like a sidebar‚” she said.The racial connotations being applied to his daughter's murder prompted Franziska’s father Florian Blöchliger to comment earlier this week: “I saw people on Facebook saying that my child was white. My child was not white‚ my child was coloured. It's not that I want to advertise that she is coloured. She had dual citizenship for South Africa and Switzerland. My wife is Indian-coloured”.

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