'Baby Tshepang's story still relevant as ever'

CapeTalk presenter John Maytham is at the National Arts Festival 2016 and reflects on the production "Tshepang."

The rape of 9-month-old Baby Tshepang shocked the country in October 2001. Almost 15 years later, the play that National Arts Festival featured artist, Lara Foot, first produced in 2003 is as relevant as ever.

The story of Tshepang and her horrific rape is told by township sculptor, Simon, some three years after the event. The baby's mother, Ruth, is on stage throughout, mute, and, literally, rubbing salt into her wounds.

The play's greatest strength is its nuanced understanding of individual responsibility and the role played by societal dysfunction. Yes, the mother's boyfriend physically raped the infant. But, as Simon angrily retorts at one of the vulture flock of journalists that descended on the northern Cape township in the immediate aftermath, this place has been gang raped many times over.

15 years on, the horrific statistics around ongoing child rapes tell us that the systemic, historical dysfunction and soceital illness that makes these violations almost inevitable are, depressingly, still very much with us. It's an exceptional piece of theatre, written and performed with a rare and wonderful integrity and compassion.

I watched it as one of about a dozen adults in an audience of nearly 300 senior school pupils. The silence; the drawn-in breaths; the audible groans of horror all attested to their, and my, total absorption in the drama. In the post-performance discussion, Lara Foot, stressed to the shell-shocked audience that she'd not written Tshepang to send people home saddened; bur rather to get them engaged, because that engagement is the first step in becoming part of a solution to a terrible scourge.

CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Caller Julie says luxury train stuck in the middle of the Karoo...all day

Caller Julie says luxury train stuck in the middle of the Karoo...all day

Shosholoza Meyl Premier Classe Luxury Train stuck for hours and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon, says Julie.

John Books: Stories of serial killers, tricky DNA and a woman ahead of her time

John Books: Stories of serial killers, tricky DNA and a woman ahead of her time

John' Maytham's three book picks for the week.

Disabled riding school loses ConCourt battle and must find new pastures

Disabled riding school loses ConCourt battle and must find new pastures

SA Riding for the Disabled Association has to move premises after 35 years but have been awarded compensation.

Belfast stage company moves John Maytham in play "Those You Pass On The Street"

Belfast stage company moves John Maytham in play "Those You Pass On The Street"

"It's an evening of provocation and inspiration, that lingers in the mind and the soul long after the house lights have come up."

John Maytham reviews theatrical adaptation of Ruth First's story

John Maytham reviews theatrical adaptation of Ruth First's story

The play tells the real-life story of the anti-apartheid activists, and John Maytham offers his honest thoughts on the production.

John Maytham pens his thoughts on performances at the National Arts Festival

John Maytham pens his thoughts on performances at the National Arts Festival

CapeTalk presenter John Maytham is in Grahamstown for the National Arts Festival, and comments on his cultural experience so far.

Popular articles
Police shoot at crowd of immigrants with rubber bullets (arrests 136 people)

Police shoot at crowd of immigrants with rubber bullets (arrests 136 people)

"As we speak there’s another standoff in Sunnyside, " says EWN's Barry Bateman.

Letters show Moyane refuses to account to Gordhan, turns to Zuma to intervene

Letters show Moyane refuses to account to Gordhan, turns to Zuma to intervene

M&G reports that Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane declared an intergovernmental dispute against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

How Airbnb has made renting in Cape Town even more pricey

How Airbnb has made renting in Cape Town even more pricey

Property management company PayProp argues that Airbnb has driven down rental availability and driven up rental prices in the CBD.

Orange River water for Cape Town not an option - Water Affairs #WaterWatch

Orange River water for Cape Town not an option - Water Affairs #WaterWatch

At R2 million per km, pumping water from the Orange River over 600 km to Cape Town is prohibitively expensive.

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

These are the emergency numbers you should have on your cellphone and this is what you must understand about how they work.