Child rape at critical levels

2014-03-07 00:00

THERE’S a need for an urgent intervention to prevent the escalation of child rape in the province. Michelle Smith, trauma councillor at the Hillcrest-based Jes Foord Foundation said the rate at which children are being raped is “scary”.

“Just yesterday [Wednesday] we received a call from Howick about an eight-year-old girl who had been gang-raped sometime last week. We were also told that a Grade 1 pupil was also raped in the same week. Both children go to the same school. When the eight-year-old was found, she could not even walk,” said Smith.

She said the foundation is making arrangements to meet with the children’s families to arrange therapy for them.

Smith’s concern is reflected by the number of convictions and sentencing for rape related incidents in various parts of the province, including Pinetown, between February 18 and March 3.

During this period, 13 convictions and sentences were handed down, according to provincial police reports. Of the 13 victims, 10 were aged between three and 14.

“The reality is that even though we get more convictions, there are more people who don’t report rape, and the victims are getting younger and younger,” said Smith. “Because of the economic circumstances children are left alone after school while their mothers are at work.”

She said there was a need for mentorship programmes for young men in order to teach them how to treat women.

The foundation deals with 20 to 30 rape cases per month.

“Two to three cases per week are children. This shows that the number of convictions does not mean we are winning the battle against rape.”

Former Childline director and children’s rights activist Linda Naidoo said the incidence of child rape is critical countrywide, saying of the recent convictions, “It is a good sign that these rapists were jailed because previously it has been difficult to convict suspects on child rape because of the difficulty in getting testimony from the victims”.

But said it was difficult to provide therapy to younger victims as this requires families to work together with therapists.

To win the fight against child rape, Naidoo said men must move beyond attitudes of power and control. “Young men listen when politicians, who are role models to the young, portray women negatively in many ways. These young men then lose respect for women,” she said.

Javu Baloyi, national spokesperson for the Commission of Gender Equality, said child rape manifests itself in various forms, including forced marriages.

“We run awareness campaigns together with various state organs,” said Baloyi. “Further, we go to traditional authorities throughout the country and address people in the vernacular so that people can understand the seriousness of children and women abuse.”

“We are calling for harsher sentences for the culprits,” said Baloyi.

Convictions and sentences, February 18 to March 3

*Melusi Praise-God Shabangu (26) — 15 years’ imprisonment for raping an 11-year-old girl.

*John Mohamed Mosiane (23) — seven life terms for seven rapes. Victims aged between four and 10 years.

*Nhlanhla Mbuyazi (35) — life imprisonment for raping a 14-year-old girl.

*A 19-year-old man — 15 years’ imprisonment for raping his 14-year-old niece.

*Senzo Thusini (23) — life imprisonment for raping an 11-year-old girl.

*Nkosinathi Khawula (45) — double life imprisonment for raping an 11-year-old girl twice.

*Mlamla Gamede (23) — life imprisonment for raping an 11-year-old girl.

*A 40-year-old man — 20 years’ imprisonment for raping his 14-year-old niece.

*Lindokuhle Msweli (23) — life imprisonment for raping a three-year-old girl and a further 10 years for raping a 55-year-old woman.

*Sabelo Sibiya (35) — 20 years’ imprisonment for raping a seven-year-old child

*Mzothule Sizwe Gwala (23) — five life sentences for raping a 10-year-old girl on several occasions. The sentence will not run concurrently meaning that he will serve his 125 years in prison.

*Muzi Titious Ngema (36) — Life

imprisonment for raping an 18-year-old woman.

*Ntokoza Ndlovu (26) — life imprisonment for raping an 18-year-old woman.

*Phumlani Zungu (24) — 15 years’ imprisonment for raping a 21-year-old woman.

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