In October, a scandal broke at one of South Africa’s most prestigious private boarding schools. A group of boys from Hilton College in the KwaZulu-Natal province — the white and black sons of South Africa’s elite — had taken a picture of themselves participating in a mock gang rape and it ended up on Instagram. Their “victim” was a boy dressed in the school uniform of St. Anne’s Diocesan College, a nearby girls’ boarding school.
While the scene was captured in a curiously modern fashion, its implied brutality was as old as time. There was a small public uproar, but it soon died down. The boys received no more than a slap on the wrist for their staging of a simulated rape. None were expelled.
I thought about that picture again this month, when Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, after a South African appeals court overturned last year’s manslaughter verdict against him.