SA’s rape capital

2010-07-18 16:40

In a few months time an unwanted baby will be born in a hospital in

Thohoyandou, Limpopo. Its father is one of a gang

of six who took turns to rape his mother four months ago.

The mother is a thin, emaciated woman with dead eyes who told City

Press that the gang-rape was the second she had ­suffered in her 25 years.

“I can’t go on,” she says in an even, flat voice. “I can’t go


This Venda town is one of South Africa’s rape capitals.

The Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment

Trust handles an average of 45 rape cases in a month. The trust assists victims

not only in the first traumatic weeks, it ­also helps them through police

investigations and prosecutions.

Masikhwa Tshilidzi, the trust’s justice manager, knows from

experience that “there is no justice for rape victims in Thohoyandou”.

Only a tiny fraction of rapists ever see the inside of a prison

cell. Last year ­only 39 of 904 rape cases on the trust’s books resulted in


The conviction rate reflects the ­regional tally. The Sibasa

Regional Court heard 1 443 cases of violence against women last year. An

overwhelming majority were for rape and resulted in only 49 convictions.

Dressed in a tracksuit top and a long skirt that does not hide her

emaciated figure, the young rape victim does not gesture or change her position

on her chair as she speaks.

And she whispers her terrible tale: “They raped me in front of my

children and the neighbour’s children.”

They not only raped her, they stole what little she had in her

shack, her ID book included. That’s why she lost the social grant that provided

for her and her three children.

Home Affairs, she tells us, told her the new ID will only be ready

by next month.

A welfare organisation brings food packages, she says.

Does she not have family to support her? ­ “Only a sister in

Musina, near the Beit Bridge border post with Zimbabwe.” Nobody in Thohoyandou. “I am alone.”

This is the second time it happened, she whispers. “The other time

four came.”

No, she says, the police do not keep her informed of the

investigations. Nobody has been arrested.

She says nothing, silently obeying the requests from the

photographer, not responding to remarks to make her feel comfortable.

A dead woman carrying the live baby of a rapist, another mouth that

she will feed and raise on a social grant.


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