Woman ‘raped’, strangled

2015-08-11 06:00
Rhoma Baartman’s aunt Bernadette Rogers (left) alongside Baartman’s Mother, Miena Baartman as they describe their version of events leading up to and after finding out of Rhoma’s death


Rhoma Baartman’s aunt Bernadette Rogers (left) alongside Baartman’s Mother, Miena Baartman as they describe their version of events leading up to and after finding out of Rhoma’s death PHOTO:

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A local woman from Bokmakierie has been strangled to death and had her body dumped outside the Athlone library on Tuesday evening.

Rhoma Ann Baartman, 50, had told her mother that she was just going down the road to visit her son, but she never returned.

The next day, her mother, Miena Baartman, was alerted to the scene where a gruesome discovery had been made. She confirmed the body that lay there was that of her daughter.

It is alleged that the victim was raped and her body placed in a bag.

“She left us on Monday and that is the last time that I saw her,” says Baartman.

“Because they came to me on Tuesday to tell me that she is lying next to Athlone library.”

Baartman’s body was discovered next to an informal dwelling next to the wall of the library, a mere 200 yards from the police station.

A shocked Baartman says that she had just arrived back from FinBob, where residents go to lend money, that same afternoon after she had just come from spending the weekend together, confirming that Rhoma visited her boyfriend, Oscar, who was in hospital.

Baartman’s neighbour, Bernadette Rogers, says that Rhoma wasn’t known for frequenting the area in which her body was found.

“She wasn’t actually someone who walked around in Athlone. It was just that she found herself at the wrong place at the wrong time, because that is not the place she goes to.

“She said that she was going to her son, but then Aunty Meisie never saw her again and the last (known) time when her mother saw her was at noon on Monday.”

Baartman says that all she heard was that there was a body at the library. She went to look and discovered it was her daughter.

Local resident and Athlone community police forum member Nicole Williams says she was called to the scene at 18:45.

Williams confirms that angry residents chased an unknown man to the police station as Rhoma’s body was dragged from a shack to the main road next to Athlone terminus.

Police have confirmed that a case of murder has been opened at the Athlone police station and that the suspect is known.

Sergeant Zita Norman, Athlone police spokesperson, says Baartman appears to have been strangled due to the bruising seen on her throat, but the pathologist’s report was still outstanding to establish the exact cause and time of death.

Athlone community police forum chairperson Azizah Kannemeyer says: “Our position is to protect women and children and it is tragic that she had to be found in the way she was found.

“Just because you are poor does not mean that you deserve to be treated like dirt.”
The City of Cape Town has stepped in to help the family with funeral arrangements, which Kannemeyer applauds.

She says that the cycle of abuse seems to be more prevalent and under-reported in less affluent areas and that there is a need for those who are responsible for the safety of women, children and the elderly to step in.

“By and large our appeal is that women should not remain silent.
“The time has come for people who work in social services and the department of social development to really start running workshops in the community.

“They should go out into the community and start there. We shouldn’t allow every child, woman and elderly person to be left alone to the evils of this world,” Kannemeyer concludes.

Baartman is survived by her mother, her son Ashbol (24), as well as her sister Sarah, brother Malcolm and boyfriend Oscar.

Anyone with information which may be useful in the investigation can contact the Athlone police station on 021 697 9200 / 9238 / 9239.

In an earlier version of this article, the following paragraphs were incorrectly added to this story. People's Post apologizes for the error.

In her response, Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, quipped innocently that the partnership the WCG and the City have was akin to bacon and eggs. With the City of Cape Town providing the bacon. Zille stated that, although an iconic combination, the pig’s contribution to the partnership needs to be recognised as a greater sacrifice.

She also pointed out that despite the social decay which has been experienced in the area for the most part, there is a ray of hope on the horizon.

“History is not inevitable, we can turn it around,” she said.

Zille called on the community to work hand-in-hand with government in an effort to create a brighter future for everyone associated with the area, in particular parents of young children.

“Government can’t replace a good parent,” she said.

“If parents aren’t taking on their responsibility as a parent, the government can’t raise each child.”

But just how will the City go about executing its plans?

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security stated that the unit, amongst other things, will be responsible for visible patrols - which will form part of their saturated policing strategy.

Their will also be more random vehicle check points along with stop and searches, with the eventual issuing of warrants intended to take place.

Smith said that the presence of safety kiosks, especially around schools, will serve as a deterrent to gangs who seek to lure new recruits to their fold as well as inhibit gang activity on the school premises themselves.

He emplored that with the government’s help, they can eradicate the violence which has riddled the area and transform it from one of the most violent places to live, into making it a beacon of safety in years to come.


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