Rapists walk free, commission hears

2014-01-30 08:00

(File) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Scores of rapists go scot-free each month as a result of a severely overloaded justice system, the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

"[The number of rapes] can vary... from 50 to 110 cases a month," Genine Josias, the medical co-ordinator at one of the Thuthuzela care centres in the area, told the commission in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

Only about seven percent of the perpetrators were brought to book.

"I probably testify in less than 10% of the cases I see," she said.

The rest of the cases were withdrawn or struck off the court roll.

Josias said the police's specialised family violence, child protection and sexual offences units (FCS) only had five investigating officers managing rape cases in the sprawling township.

"Since 2004 to now there has been a huge reduction in the number of investigating officers," she said, referring to capacity constraints at the FCS unit in the area.

'Burnt out'

The officers were "burnt out" as they had massive case loads. In one instance, one of the officers had 180 sexual assault dockets for investigation on his desk.

Josias was speaking on the fifth day of the commission, set up by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille after an NGO, the Social Justice Coalition, complained that police inaction was leading to Khayelitsha residents taking the law into their own hands.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa opposed the decision to set up the inquiry, but this was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in October 2013.

Evidence leader Thembalihle Sidaki asked Josias if she was aware of a January 2011 newspaper headline on the discovery of sexual offences kits on a field in Delft.

"I am painfully aware of that incident," a visibly angry Josias answered.

The kits contained underwear, DNA samples and pubic hairs which she and her colleagues had collected and handed to an investigating officer.

"The kits were from his [investigating officer's] home. It was never handed in [to the forensic science laboratory]. We don't know how it landed on the field."

The officer had since died. Josias said she never received feedback on whether the cases ever made it to court.

Serial rapist

Josias broke down in tears when asked about a serial rapist who was arrested one year after she raised the alarm in 2010. She and her colleagues had examined at least five girls under the age of nine who survived violent rapes.

Josias suspected they were the victims of a serial rapist as they were so badly hurt that they had to be examined at a hospital under anaesthesia.

In addition, the girls were all raped in bushes in Endlovini, on the outskirts of the township. When she brought it to the attention of a superintendent and a captain, she was not taken seriously.

It took a phone call to then Western Cape police commissioner Mzwandile Petros, and a threat to alert the media for him to order the formation of a task team to probe the matter.

"Many more girls were raped and I just think they could have done something earlier, you know, to prevent that," a tearful Josias said.

The man was suspected of raping 21 girls. DNA samples collected could only link him to 11 of the rapes.

"He had no choice but to plead guilty... it didn't actually go to an open court because the evidence was overwhelming."

When asked about her frustrations in seeing so many sexual assault survivors denied justice, despite her hard work, Josias lashed out at government for "having no idea" what long-term effects rape had on survivors.

"It's not about my hard work.

"That is my job. We are failing our people. We are failing helpless kids, children that are innocent."

Read more on:    mzwandile petros  |  nathi mthethwa  |  helen zille  |  cape town

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.