Taxi rank assault: Victim describes ordeal

2012-01-14 12:12
Johannesburg - An 18-year-old who was one of the two girls harassed and groped by a group of men at the Noord street taxi rank in central Johannesburg two weeks ago said she feared being gang raped during the incident.

Speaking to The Saturday Star, the Grade 12 pupil only identified as Nomthandazo to protect her identity, was quoted as saying: "Had I been wearing only underwear they would have raped me over and over again."

"That's how disgusting they were," she said.

Nomthandazo wore a black miniskirt with an animal print top while her 19-year-old friend, also only identified as Zama, wore black leggings and a black top with white bra straps showing.

She told the newspaper that she and her friend were still perturbed about the December 20 incident when they were groped and harassed by a group of howling and salivating men near the infamous taxi rank.

"Everything happened so fast. There were many of them. They chanted songs, laughed while taking pictures of us with their cellphones," said Nomthandazo.

Nomthandazo said she and her friend had been going from one store to another looking for a dress when the incident happened.

When they did not find the dress near the rank they decided to head to Carlton Centre hoping to find something there.

"No one helped"

However, in no time after the girls stepped out of the store they were greeted by a group of about 60 to 70 men.

"They followed us. We couldn't make out what they were singing. But I could see from their actions what their intentions were," Nomthandazo said.

She said while she and Zama walked along the corner of Twist and Bok streets one of the men pulled down Zama's top exposing her bra.

"She [Zama] pulled it back up but another one rushed towards her and pulled it down again taunting her," Nomthandazo said.

While the men harassed Zama, the others groped Nomthandazo.

"They wanted to pull my [skirt] up but I fought back. I wasn't going to let them win," she said.

The incident saw the girls run into a shop to buy tights, but they did not find them.

Nomthandazo said the men continued to follow them but were prevented from entering the shop by the owner.

"The shop owner told us to stay inside but it was getting late and we wanted to go home," she said.

The girl said apart from a woman who offered her a shawl to cover up, no one helped them.

Charges of intimidation and harassment

"Men and women just stood watching...no one bothered to help...," she said.

The teenagers were eventually rescued by metro police officers almost half an hour later and they have since lay charges of intimidation and harassment at the Johannesburg central police station.

The incident was caught on CCTV camera. Nomthandazo said she could not point out all the men except one of them who was wearing a Kaizer Chiefs shirt as seen in the CCTV video clip.

The incident was condemned by civil society and politicians, including Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane who described the behaviour of the men as "animal-like".

The girls' attack followed that of Nwabisa Ngcukana who was also harassed and groped at the taxi rank for wearing a miniskirt four years ago.

Read more on:    johannesburg

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