She spent 10 years searching for justice after she was raped at the popular Kings Beach in Port Elizabeth. Andy Kawa has now penned a book about her ordeal, which included the ups and downs she went through with the police. She left like she had to investigate the case herself, she tells Drum.
This is an extract from her book:
The Humewood police knew Jakavula. He’d been a local serial criminal for over 20 years and was out on bail at the time on three separate charges of rape, one of an eighteen-year-old male student. How this bush-dweller with no abode got bail was a good indicator of the cracks in our criminal justice system.
Madubedube sent several ‘please call me’ messages to Thembi’s phone. Annoyed, she ignored them at first but eventually decided to call him. He told her my suitcase had been found and they wanted me to go to Humewood police station that afternoon to identify the clothing.
I didn’t see how the person who had been found with my suitcase was necessarily my rapist, but agreed to meet Madubedube at the police station to identify the case and what was left of the contents. On our way there he phoned and asked if we could first pick him up to attend an ID parade of possible suspects.
With the Christmas season opening in PE on December 16th, the Mandela Bay Municipality was in the process of clearing the beachfront of, in the words of its security director, Arlin Robile, ‘vagrants, illegal car guards and funny characters’.
The police had contacted Madubedube and arranged to have the ID parade right there in the King’s Beach parking lot. It would be an opportunity for me to try to identify suspects. Three police vans arrived, each with about eight vagrants inside. They were released one group at a time.
I stood there behind my burqa, completely terrified, and shook my head two dozen times. I had no idea if any of these men had raped me. In addition it felt entirely inappropriate to be in such close proximity to them. It didn’t seem to occur to Madubedube that this was traumatic for me. He would later say that he couldn’t tell how I felt because he couldn’t see beyond my burqa.
Crucially, what Madubedube failed to do was take down the names of the vagrants, even though he knew that after the line-up the municipality would be kicking them out of the area for good.
Back at the Humewood station I identified my suitcase. Andrews wasn’t there, but I found out later that a statement was fabricated in my words, saying that I’d identified the clothing in his presence on 12 December:
Andrews then produced a bundle of clothing wrapped in one of my gowns, marked as
SAP13. A black bag containing a white shawl and a black checked scarf . . .
There was also a ‘statement regarding interview with suspect’ supposedly conducted by Andrews with Jakavula after the latter had been arrested with my suitcase. It said the interview was conducted at 14:30 on 9 December 2010.
This was the day and roughly the time I was parking my car at King’s Beach, before my rape and before Jakavula had been caught with my suitcase.
How he could have been a suspect before the rape and robbery had been committed was beyond me. Sloppy cops, was what it said.
Madubedube decided that Jakavula, alias Mabaza, was the chief suspect. His eighteen-year-old son, Mancane, alias Themba, was also arrested. A cleaner at King’s Beach had come forward to say the pair had sold her my clothes. I pointed out to Madubedube that Jakavula may well have raped me, but the only person I’d be able to identify was my abductor and he hadn’t left me for long enough during that night to break into my car 300 metres away to steal and hide a suitcase.
In an attempt to ‘act normal’ Thembi and I went to have our nails done at a salon in Newton Park. I was in my burqa so my bruises weren’t visible. While I was there, Thembi’s phone rang. It was Madubedube, asking me to come to another ID parade, this time at St Albans prison, where Jakavula was being held. The manicurist overheard and asked me if I was ‘the lady who’s been in the newspaper’. She was young, only nineteen, but spoke with the wisdom of an old soul. She told me healing would take time. She knew because she, too, had been raped, also at the beach.
I was horrified. This girl could be my daughter. Maybe my getting taken had saved another child a night of terror. I thought of that woman’s piercing scream in the dunes. I’d told the police about it, but they hadn’t seemed interested.
The St Albans ID parade was done properly, behind a screen. I couldn’t see anyone who resembled my abductor. In fact Mancane wasn’t there. He had been released without being charged, even though he was at least an accomplice to the theft of my case. He was, I later discovered, one of Madubedube’s unofficial beachfront informers, as was Eldridge, the car guard.
After leaving me that morning, or even before accosting me, the main perpetrator could have been captured on one of about 20 CCTV cameras along the PE beachfront. These cameras are monitored by the municipality. Madubedube arranged to view the footage to see if there was anyone who resembled my attacker. It could provide us with a description of the suspect to compile a realistic identikit. Mazwi and I met him at the fire station in South End, where the control room was. Coincidentally, Mazwi and Madubedube knew each other.
The location of the cameras had to be kept secret from civilians and only SAPS were ordinarily allowed to view footage, but the operator agreed that we could sit with Madubedube and go through the images. Not all the cameras were static, so finding footage focusing on the car 50 park after 2 pm on Thursday 9 December was going to be an exercise in patience. I prepared myself for an afternoon of fast-forwarding with Madubedube. I felt a surge of hope when, within five minutes, we found images of me driving in; parking; coming back to check that I’d locked the car. I noted the numbers of the clips. I wondered why the police hadn’t examined the camera footage after they’d found my car that night. They would have seen in which direction I’d walked and even who’d broken into my car.
But before we could continue, Madubedube told us he had to head back to the station. He had to return the car he was using, as his boss, Colonel Engelbrecht, was making a fuss because he needed it to go to a meeting.
Mazwi and I tried to continue without him, but the operator came to say the monitoring hub wasn’t for the general public and we should wait for Madubedube to return. We waited two hours. He neither returned our calls, nor answered his phone. We had no choice but to leave without going through all the footage. I assumed the investigating officer would come back to obtain copies of the footage, go through it and identify possible suspects to show me.
I was wrong.