Outrage - but rape goes on

NASHIRA DAVIDS | 2013-02-11 00:06:44.0
Photograph by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

As South Africans decry the scourge of rape, a three-year-old Limpopo girl has become a victim of sexual assault.

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She was allegedly raped by a relative.

And as 17-year-old Anene Booysen, gang- raped and "slaughtered" last week, was being buried on Saturday, Cape Town police found the body of a teenager in a drawer . She, too, had been raped.

Today, two suspects will appear in the Bredasdorp Magistrate's Court, in Western Cape in connection with Booysen's rape and murder. Two men will appear in the Dutywa Magistrate's Court, in Eastern Cape, one for the rape of a half-blind and deaf grandmother, the other for the rape of a disabled 21-year-old woman in Eastern Cape.

Booysen's rape and murder sparked a national outcry and her story made international headlines, cementing South Africa's reputation as the rape capital of the world.

President Jacob Zuma has added his voice to the condemnation and has called for the "harshest sentences on such crimes".

The DA wants specialised sexual offences courts reinstated.

Even the UN has condemned the high level of sexual violence in South Africa.

But, despite the protests and demonstrations, the rapes have continued.

Yesterday, community members helped Mankweng police, in Limpopo, arrest a 20-year-old who allegedly raped a three-year-old on Wednesday.

The toddler was left in his care when her mother went to work. The child told her mother of the assault and the police were called in. The child was admitted to Mankweng Hospital.

"Doctors said she is fine. Her parents have received counselling," said police spokesman Constable Moses Molepo.

In Scottsville, Cape Town, a 21-year-old man was arrested on Saturday.

"I can confirm that a murder and rape case is under investigation by the Kraaifontein police after the body of a 19-year-old woman was found yesterday afternoon at 3pm in the drawer of a bed," said police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut.

On Thursday, a 69-year-old grandmother was raped in Thaleni village, near Dutywa. Her alleged attacker was found sleeping in her bed.

On Saturday, a 44-year-old man was arrested for the rape of a 21-year-old disabled woman in Sinqumeni village, also near Dutywa.

DA MP Debbie Schafer said: "One of the critical changes that must be made is the reinstatement of the specialised sexual offences courts.

"Though this will certainly not solve the rape crisis on its own, it is vital to provide a deterrent to would-be rapists. A clear message must be sent that rapists will be arrested and convicted if they commit this offence."

Lifeline East London campaign coordinator Lorainne Macdougall said South Africa's rape statistics were "terrible".

According to the police's 2011-2012 crime statistics, just under 65000 sexual offences were reported nationally - half of which involved children.

The offences include rape and attempted rape.

C hildline spokesman Joan van Niekerk said that though South Africans are good at "posturing" and politicians at making speeches, campaigns such as the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children have made "no difference" .

"I am not convinced that, with [Booysen's] murder, we have [become] activated as a country. We do a lot of posturing but [take] very little action," said Van Niekerk.

"So we want to see action. We want to see changes in the application of the law and we want to see further reform of our Sexual Offences Act. We need better-trained police, further law reform and the application of laws that have been passed."

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution said that the brutality of Booysen's violation showed that rape was not a crime of sex but of violence.

Three men have been arrested for Booysen's murder. Two are expected to appear in the Bredasdorp Magistrate's Court today; the other one will appear tomorrow.

It is reported that Booysen identified one of her killers shortly before she died.

Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution's researcher and analyst Nomboniso Gasa said: "There are hard and urgent questions that must be answered. We must ask why we have such low levels of arrest and conviction of those responsible for these crimes?"

Yesterday, trade union federation Cosatu called on people to march to the Bredasdorp police station to deliver a memorandum of demands to the police and the Department of Social Development.

"We need to demand that the government, [and] political and business leaders, co-ordinate our response to this crisis," the memorandum read. - Additional reporting by Michelle Solomon and Zwanga Mukhuthu

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