KZN rape survivor speaks out for others

2008-03-06 00:00

Jessica Foord (21) refuses to be a victim and hopes that by speaking about her brutal rape, she will encourage other women to stand up for their rights.

Kloof resident Foord was gang-raped while her father was held at gunpoint at a dam near Hillcrest on Sunday. The incident shocked the close-knit community because the rape occurred at a fishing spot popular with locals.

She and her father were walking their dogs when five men accosted them. Foord’s father was pushed into a ditch and held at gunpoint.

The men took Foord into nearby sugar cane fields and raped her before making off with the Foords’ vehicle and jewellery.

After intense investigations by police and a private investigator hired by Foord’s family, five suspects were arrested and charged with rape and theft.

SAPS Organised Crime Unit, Metro police and local police arrested two suspects at Inanda Dam on Tuesday night, while the other three were arrested in the Shongweni Valley.

Fed up with crime in the area, the community worked closely with police and the private investigator to track down the suspects.

A relieved Foord told The Witness that it is a “wonderful feeling” knowing that her attackers are behind bars, and she plans to move on with her life.

“I’m feeling really good that they have been arrested, but think that more needs to be done about rapists. These acts of violence need to stop,” she said.

Foord said she decided to speak out about her rape because she wants to empower other women who have also been raped.

“Far too often, women keep quiet about their rapes. They need to know that it’s not their fault. They should rather speak out about it than hide away,” she said.

Foord, who is due to start a new job next week, said she will not let the incident stop her from leading a full life.

“I’m currently receiving counselling and once that is over, I will start my new job. I just want to put this awful experience behind me,” she said.

The brave young woman urged other women to be extra vigilant and not to go out alone at night.

She thanked the people who supported her after the incident.

Family friend Antony Cox said the family are glad the suspects were arrested, as this brought some closure to the ordeal.

Brian Jones, director of the Hillcrest Community Information Centre, said the community are also relieved.

sharlenep@witness.co.za

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