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Heartbreaking Details About Khensani Maseko, The South African College Student Who Died By Suicide After Reporting Her Rape

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Who Is Khensani Maseko? Details About South African College Student Committed Suicide After She Was Raped
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Gender-based violence is at an all-time high in the country.

A South African university student committed suicide after alleging she was raped and her death has sparked outrage about crime against women across the country.

Khensani Maseko, a third-year student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, reported that she was raped by another student in May, according to a statement released by the university. The 23-year-old took her own life on August 3, four days after she told authorities of her rape that allegedly occurred two months earlier. She was scheduled to return to classes the following day after a leave of absence during the investigation into her alleged rape.

“Our society has failed Khensani like it has failed many Khensani's‚” Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr. Sizwe Mabizela said to her family at her funeral Thursday.

Khensani posted a heartbreaking message on her now-deleted Instagram account the day she died.

 "No one deserves to be raped," she wrote.

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Khensani's alleged rapist, whose name was not released, was suspended following her death and the university is working with the South African Police (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority to look further into the case, the statement on the university's website reads. 

"The tragic passing of Khensani will not mark an end to the investigation into the circumstances leading up to her passing," Rhodes University added.

At Khensani's funeral, her mother cried while speaking of the "gaping and bleeding hole" in her heart, local media reported.

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"Khensi‚ your tragic passing left a gaping and bleeding hole in my heart. You were my pride and joy from the moment I held you for the first time. I loved you with every fiber in me‚" Thembi Thobile Maseko said at the funeral. "You were my child and yet my little sister I never had. We had a wonderful life together. We shared the highs and the lows."

The gender-based violence toward women in South Africa is rising at an alarming rate and funeral-goers, including friends, family, and more, used Khensani's death as a platform to call for change.

"We need to change this country‚ this world‚ because it cannot be that when a parent gives birth to a girl child they must simultaneously prepare for her death. This is not fair‚ this is not right‚" Khensani's friend Nhlakanipho Mahlangu said at the funeral.

As support for Khensani's loved ones poured in, Rhodes University expressed its condolences and the need for something to be done to prevent future rapes and murders of South African women. 

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“As the Rhodes University community, we are deeply saddened by Khensani’s passing and would like to extend our sincerest condolences to her family, loved ones, and everyone that knew her. Her death underlines the pervasive scourge of gender-based violence in our society. We have been robbed of an amazing young woman who was destined to make a significant impact on our society and beyond. We hope that this tragic incident will allow the University an opportunity to reflect and to engage, even deeper, on how we must pull together as a University and society to eliminate the scourge of gender-based violence once and for all. This is the most fitting and lasting tribute we can give Khensani,” Mabizela said in a statement.

South Africa has been labeled the "rape capital of the world." In June, the national statistical service of South Africa stated in a report that 138 out of 100,000 women were raped in 2016 and 2017 in the country.

"This figure is among the highest in the world. For this reason, some have labeled South Africa the 'rape capital of the world,'" it said.

Huffington Post South Africa reported that femicide, the killing of a woman or girl on account of her gender, is five times higher than the global rate, adding that "women are endangered."

Khesani's tragic death came just after hundreds of women to protest against gender-based violence on Aug. 1. Women flocked to the streets of South Africa, yelling "My body, not your crime scene," CNN reported. 

"The Total Shutdown" marches aimed to raise awareness of the country' increasing rate of crimes toward women and girls. 

"We have nothing to celebrate on 9 August — Women’s Day in South Africa," the organizer's website reads. "Every week, we receive multiple reports of women, children, and gender non-conforming people who have been brutally murdered, kidnapped, or abused, and there is no sense of urgency from our leaders to find ways in which society can tackle this violence. Women including the LGBTQIA+, children, and GNC people keep dying at the hands of men in South Africa, and something needs to be done.

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Sarah Gangraw is a travel-addicted cat lady who lives on black coffee and cheese. She has a degree in journalism and writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter — she's occasionally funny.

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