Rape of elderly on the increase

2012-09-13 00:00

THREE children were held at knifepoint as a man raped their 70-year-old grandmother in the Mandeni area in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday night.

KZN police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed the incident and said the suspect (25) would appear in the Eshowe Magistrate’s Court soon.

The suspect was immediately arrested yesterday, through a partnership between police and community members.

Sinikiwe Biyela, the director of trauma, rape and HIV counselling service LifeLine, said the trend of rape of the elderly was a great concern as it seemed that most perpetrators looked for victims who were vulnerable and could not protect themselves, targeting elderly women and children.

“Rape is about power and control … a 25-year-old has more power than a 70-year-old gogo,” Biyela said.

The perpetrators were looking for victims that were not infected with HIV, “so they will not worry about not using condoms”.

This is the seventh incident of rape of elderly women in KZN this year.

“Most gender-based violence educational talks and awareness campaigns focus on children, youth and adults, but exclude senior citizens,” Biyela said. “We all know that older people feel very uncomfortable talking about sex. Therefore perpetrators are targeting gogos as they are less likely to report rape incidents because they feel embarrassed talking about sex.

“Perpetrators see this as an opportunity of getting away with [their crimes].”

Biyela said rape victims had indicated that the time between the incident, prosecution and sentencing was too long.

“There is a need for severe, harsh sentences for rapist to discourage this unacceptable behaviour.”

Biyela said there should be more education for senior citizens in terms of how to keep themselves safe, and community involvement in preventing rape was crucial.

“There is a need for community dialogues aimed at reducing these incidents in different communities,” he said.

The rape of elderly women has angered the MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu.

“I am deeply angered by these criminals targeting senior citizens. As a government we value our elders, but these kinds of incidents display a loss of ubuntu and they are barbaric.”

Where rapes of the elderly have occurred in KwaZulu-Natal this year:

• KwaSayimane (where two women aged 94 and 82 were raped);

• Mgungundlovu (where a 74-year-old woman was raped and a 60-year-old woman raped and murdered);

• uThukela (details of victim were not disclosed);

• Ixopo (where a 65-year-old was raped).

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