Members of the community condemn the barbaric actions performed by a 39-year-old man from Bokfontein who appeared in the Brits Magistrate’s Court for charges of rape.
Police crime statistics released there were a total of 53 617 sexual offences reported to the South African Police Services (SAPS) yearly. This translates into 147 cases per day. The difficulty with using statistics released by the SAPS is that many incidents of rape go unreported; some studies estimate that if all rapes were reported, the figures could be as high 482 000 for the country.
The reasons that so many incidents of rape go unreported to the police include; fear of retaliation or intimidation by the perpetrator; the fact that many survivors lack access to services; the personal humiliation of being exposed as a victim of rape in a community, the extreme suffering that goes hand in hand with rape as a psychological trauma; reluctance to cause pain to loved ones; the fact that the offender is often known to the victim and frequently a member of the victim’s family; and the possibility of negative financial consequences, particularly if the victim is a child and her family relies on the perpetrator’s income to survive.
These factors are compounded by the stigma associated with rape, and by the fact that many people in our society subscribe to myths and stereotypes about rape. Most rape myths lay the blame or responsibility at the door of the victim, by suggesting that her or his behaviour somehow led the rapist to rape her or him. This can lead to further under-reporting, as rape victims suffer feelings of guilt, or fear of facing the blame of their community or family. In addition, many survivors only report several months, or even years, after the incident. Opening old wounds and reliving the trauma of rape all over again can be daunting.
However, the barrier to reporting that Rape Crisis explores most deeply in our work is the rape victim’s lack of faith in the ability of the South African Criminal Justice System (CJS) to offer services, to protect, to treat with dignity and respect and, above all, to support claims to justice and to act as a deterrent to rapists. Rape in South Africa has emerged as a crime of extreme violence.
Commentators liken the types of rape they see in South Africa to those perpetrated du-ring armed conflict, in terms of the degradation, ritual humiliation and the extent of injuries, such as mutilation, that are involved. Further indica-ting the extremity of the violence that accompanies rape, researchers have found that twelve times more women are raped and then murdered in South Africa every year than in the United States. A recent national mortuary-based study concluded that in South Africa a woman is killed every six hours by an intimate partner, another record-setting statistic.
Studies at various sites have found multiple perpetrator involvement in 25% to 55% of rapes. In 2011, 55% of the rape survivors counselled by Rape Crisis had been raped by more than one offender. Of these rapes, 25% had been perpetrated by known gangs. In multiple perpetrator rapes, the number of offenders ranged from 2 to 30 in respect of any one victim.
The incident happened last year June, when a 18-year-old teenager was allegedly attacked and raped by the man supposingly being a family friend. According to the victim, the man has sexually abused her more than once. During the trial, the magistrate could not find any concrete evidence regarding the rape and postponed the matter to 23 June, 2016, whereby both the lawyer and the prosecutor should further present sufficient evidence.