South Africa


South Africa’s 48-hour trend report – 15 to 16 June 2020

South Africa’s 48-hour trend report – 15 to 16 June 2020
Tens of thousands protest against gender-based violence outside Parliament in Cape Town on 5 September 2019 after a week of brutal murders of young South African women. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and their narratives related to social cohesion and division in South African public-domain social media conversations from 15 to 16 June 2020. Global trends affecting South Africa are also featured.

Born from protest

Critical debates about race, gender and violence against women and children prevailed in social media conversations as South Africa commemorated Youth Day on Tuesday, reflecting on the 1976 student uprising in Soweto.

The conversation around gender is starting to shift as the Black Lives Matter movement evolves, with many women now raising questions about why black men are silent about discrimination against black women.

On June 16 attention turned to stories of young women activists in the struggle against apartheid. @NalediChirwa tweeted: “We remember the young women and the girls at the forefront whose names are a distant memory or completely erased. They too fought. They too were violated and resisted. We carry the baton with reverence.” The tweet received 270 retweets and 900 likes. 

@LeboLion_SA echoed this sentiment: “When we learn about youth day & the youth that died, we’re not told about the young women who marched, we don’t commemorate them. It’s as if all the revolutions were led by young black men. Today I want to remember all the young female revolutionaries & the sacrifices they made”. Her tweet included a pictorial thread about female freedom fighters and received 42 retweets and 123 likes.


Additional narratives are emerging as social media users discuss the complex intersection of race and gender. 

@Justina responded to a tweet which appears to be posted by a black male: “If black men are so evil and dangerous, stop marching for us. It’s really that simple.” @Justina replied: “So just wanna unpack how much men are centred in this movement. He said to stop marching for us (black men). We said BLACK LIVES MATTER and all men heard was “Black men matter.” Cus they couldn’t care less about Black women but be clear,  I march for BLACK WOMEN.” The tweet received over 9,400 retweets, 22,100 likes and 147 comments.

While the Black Lives Matter movement has united people against racial prejudice around the world, it has also brought gender disparities to the fore.

@BintiM said black men refused to engage in conversations around violence: “I’ve watched black men in this platform completely refuse to engage with black women on their violence towards us for like 10yrs and I have no illusions about them because I know that many black men do not care if we die especially if it’s by their hands.” The tweet received 130 retweets and 187 likes. 

Some black male Twitter users called for the breaking down of social and cultural restrictions that prevented Black women from thriving. @Duhlency called on black men to work towards ending this injustice: “To the Black men: we are not kids anymore, so all the logic around us being raised to be misogynist and growing up in patriarchy is out the window. We are grown ass men that need to do the work that needs to be done to allow Black women and Black Trans women to thrive.” The tweet received over 7,900 retweets, 22,800 likes and 60 comments, with most comments praising his vocal stance.

@LoyisoGijana also called on men to help with the fight against gender-based violence “A CRY TO ALL MEN‼️ OUR WOMEN/ SISTERS AND MOTHERS ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES IN A WORLD WHERE A WOMAN IS KILLED DAILY! Why are we so quiet as men when all you can hear is a women’s cry? Why do we feel entitled to a woman’s body? I believe that men should be protesting.” The tweet, which included a video of a song, received 5,600 retweets, 7,500 likes and 270 comments. The video was viewed more than 50,000 times by Wednesday morning.

Many new hashtags emerge daily as users follow and share events in the Black Lives Matter protests. @LoupeDaDon retweeted the video of Rayshard Brooks’ family during a press conference: “Rt’ing this because I feel like black people that die of police brutality are becoming nothing more than hashtags and I feel like we need reminders that these are real humans with real families and real emotions.” The tweet received over 271,000 retweets, 291,700 likes and the video was viewed more than 3.6 million times. 

Suffer the innocent 

Many social media users are outraged that the horrific violence against women and children in South Africa continues unabated.

On Monday @D3lah_say tweeted: “A 3 month old baby. Stolen from her mother’s side while she was asleep, and raped. A baby. She’s had 3 surgeries, but she can’t pass stool. She may never go back to normal. Her parents can’t afford the medical bills. 3 months old. Let that sink in the next time you say ‘but’.” The tweet received 5,900 retweets and 4,600 likes by Wednesday.

On Tuesday @savannahxpanda, tweeted, “After Uyinene, didn’t Cyril say that the punishment for murder/rape etc. would be changed? Yet there are murderers and rapists walking free on R500 bail or because they’re ‘first time offenders’ … South Africa empty promises. What a disappointment”. The tweet generated 818 retweets and 1,500 likes. It became a development point in the conversation as more stories about violence against women and children were shared.

Some social media users delved into the drivers of violent culture. 

@Its_PauldineJ, tweeted: “Men obsessed with submission are NEVER worth  “submitting” to . They are always WEAK, spineless and insecure. They get bullied by other men daily so the only way to feel important is to walk over women!” The tweet gained traction, with 15,600 retweets and 41,300 likes. 

@BijouBaidoe tweeted: “A big problem is how you boys don’t even realise your harmful actions when you’re doing it. You don’t even realise it’s sexual assault which is why when you get allegations it comes as a shock to YOU. That’s why you have to seriously reflect on yourself and your actions.” The tweet received 296 retweets and 395 likes.

Later in the day, @KhulisoKMahosi, tweeted “STOP VIOLATING WOMEN. STOP VIOLATING MEN. STOP VIOLATING CHILDREN. STOP VIOLATING BABIES.” The tweet generated 461 retweets and 1,100 likes, indicating the urgent need for action to stop the violence.

More going missing 

An alarming surge in requests for help to locate missing people has become apparent on social media recently.

On Tuesday @NubianQhawekazi shared a photo and information about missing teen Gugulethu Lesedi Ntamane. The tweet read: “#BringGugulethuHome Please help us find Gugulethu (15 years old) last seen on the 12th of June in Malvern Johannesburg wearing jeans, grey jacket and pink pumps. Please please retweet. Please dm me or contact her mother Clementine on 082 043 1729 if you have any info.” The tweet received 1,200 retweets and 340 likes.

A short while later @Azania_Mhayise shared an image with details of missing 14-year-old Danelle Farelle. The tweet read: “Please retweet”. The tweet gained traction with 6,000 retweets and 1,900 likes. A response in the comment section from @Segopotjie indicated that the teen had been found. The tweet was an image showing a “Found Child Alert” from SA Community Crime Watch. 

@ArinaMadzunye shared an image about missing person Rudzani Makhwanya. The tweet read simply: “Please retweet”. The tweet generated 1,800 retweets and 456 likes. 

On the ball

The top topic for the day was Marcus Rashford, 22-year-old Manchester United footballer who has been instrumental in raising £20-million to provide meals for children in need.

Rashford has been widely praised for his humanitarian efforts. A tweet by @goal listed his achievements off the pitch: it has been retweeted over 5,000 times with more than 18,000 likes. DM


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