From the archives: 'We applaud her' – community supports student accused of killing her 1-year-old niece's would-be rapist

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Siphokazi Guqa* (23) was looking after her little sister’s 1-year old daughter on Thursday, September 10 when she heard the child crying but couldn’t see where she was.
Siphokazi Guqa* (23) was looking after her little sister’s 1-year old daughter on Thursday, September 10 when she heard the child crying but couldn’t see where she was.
Maksym Panchuk / EyeEm/ Getty images

She’s being hailed as a hero. When she walked into her family kraal to find a man with his pants around his ankles standing over her one-year-old niece, she jumped into action.

The two wrestled for the child and when she was losing the fight, she grabbed a piece of metal and struck him. 

The Eastern Cape woman is now facing charges of murder after the incident in the kraal in her home in Qaga Village near King Williams Town. 

Siphokazi Guqa* (23) was looking after her little sister’s 1-year old daughter on Thursday, September 10 when she heard the child crying but couldn’t see where she was.  

She followed the sound of the crying child and found her in the kraal. There with a man whose pants were already down to his ankles in there with her, the family tells DRUM.

They fought and the man died. Siphokazi was arrested and released on R500 bail. 

Read more | Pretoria woman sexually harassed by taxi driver on camera tells her story

That fateful day  

The child’s grandmother Nolwazi Guqa* is proud and relieved.

She received call from her daughter around lunch time on September 10 telling her that she had just killed a man, she recalls. 

“I was driving and I thought I had heard her wrong and I pulled over to the side of the road so that I could hear exactly what she was saying.  She said she killed him because she caught him trying to rape my granddaughter,” Nolwazi says.

While the toddler was in tears, Siphokazi, a student at an Eastern Cape university, allegedly wrestled with the half-dressed man who refused to let go of the child.  

His grip was too tight, so she reached out and grabbed a nearby metal object and hit him until he collapsed. 

The yard is full of metal objects lying around because of cars being fixed. 

Neighbors who heard the commotion called an ambulance and put him in a wheelbarrow to take him home and realized that he was already dead. 

Nolwazi says she was extremely proud of her daughter. 

“She is one of seven children and I am so happy that she had the strength to fight.

“I am very happy that Siphokazi arrived in the knick of time and saved that child because she would have been traumatized for her whole life and become a statistic.  I am not worried about Siphokazi at all even though she was arrested because she has done nothing wrong.  “She did what any parent would have done in that position, I am very proud of her.  I am also overwhelmed by the support we have received from the community.” 

Nolwazi believes that rapists should not get bail because of the damage they cause to their victims, and most of them she says, never do it just once. 

So, if they are denied bail then they will not be able to do it again and women wouldn’t have to be defending themselves against them, she says. 

“The number of cases against women and children in our country is alarming and it is causing us as women to think about harmful tactics in order to protect ourselves. “Women are now advising each other, especially those who live alone to keep kettles with sugar water or steel wool in their bedrooms so that when they can hear someone trying to gain entry into their homes they boil the kettles and dose the perpetrators with it.  In that way, their skins will peel off while you call the police.  

“We always try to be vigilant.  Now we cannot trust men of any age because even pensioners or the clergy with their white collars also rape,” said.

Read more | Mother of missing Kimberley girl still hopes to find her 10 years later: "I don't think she's dead"

Support from all around SA 

When we talk to community members, they tell us they are rejoicing because another dangerous man is off their streets. 

A neighbor Thobeka Booi says Siphokazi did the right thing. 

“She did what anyone in her position would have done.  I applaud her. Men are dangerous out there and they cannot be trusted.  It is unbelievable that he was so bold that he even had the guts to wrestle with her while holding the child instead of pulling up his pants and running. “I was so angry that day, before I found out that he had died. We are happy that Siphokazi saved the child.  Now our main focus is getting Siphokazi out of the trouble she is in with the authorities,” she says.  

Siphokazi facing a murder charge, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani confirms.  

“She was released on R500 bail and will be appearing in court again on October 29,” she says. 

Siphokazi was represented in court by the South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA). 

Petros Majola of the Khula Community Development Project EC says while they do not condone murder, they are happy Siphokazi did what she did. 

“She was not killing someone, she was saving a child. She could not have been expected to wait until he had raped the child before doing something.  

“She did the right thing, yimbokodo. By nature, women have instincts to love and protect children and Siphokazi did just that.  And very often in cases like this they possess power and strength they would not ordinarily have,” he says. 

“How would this woman successfully rescue the little girl if she didn't opt for using the force? Would she have rescued this little one if she came to the alleged perpetrator with a smile and humbly ask him to hand over the little girl? 

“The maternal bond (inimba) for sure does not have a chance to smile while you see a man trying to rape your child, but I am not the judge but sharing my thoughts. Our organization stands for children's rights and victim empowerment for victims of crime and violence and we appeal to the Criminal Justice System to be lenient towards this 23-year-old woman.” 

This is not the first time a woman has faced charged after catching an alleged rapist in the act. In 2017, the country rallied around an Eastern Cape mother who admitted to stabbing her daughter’s alleged rapists, killing one man and injuring two others.  

She was fondly dubbed Mama Lion.  The NPA declined to prosecute her.

*Not her real name to protect the identity of the child.

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