‘My daughter was raped!’

Three high school girls decided to bunk school. Ever bunked school as a teenager? I know I did, but this particular day will stay with these three girls forever.

When fun goes wrong

Three girls aged 14-15 met at school that morning, but instead of going in they decided to walk up to their local taxi rank and go for a ride. By the time they reached Wynberg taxi rank most of the commuters had already been dropped off and the taxis were mostly empty. They got in a taxi with the driver, his friend and the guardtjie (person who collects the fare from commuters). The driver told them they could sit up front; two of the girls (girl A and B) went to sit up front sandwiched between the driver and his friend, while the third (girl C) had to sit in the back with the guard.

Girl A asked the driver to take them to her boyfriend’s house in Grassy Park, the driver then asked them if they would like a free ride around, they said yes. The music was pumping, and they were off. During the course of the drive the guard gripped girl C in the back of the taxi, pinned her to the floor and raped her.

A while later one of the girls in the front turned around and asked where her friend was, as she couldn’t see her. Girl C then got up from the floor and girl B could see that she had been crying. She then told to the taxi driver to stop the car as she needed to go to the toilet.

The driver stopped outside a KFC and the three girls went into the bathroom, where girl C told them what had happened. Not knowing where they were they asked a customer inside and was told that they were in Mitchells Plain (not the safest suburb for anyone let alone three 14-year-old girls). They went back to the taxi and told the driver to take them back to the taxi rank. When they got there all three girls parted ways and girl C went to a nearby friend’s house.

The worst phone call

She told her friend what happened and her friend’s mother immediately phoned her mom.

That was when I received the worst phone call a mother could receive.

When I arrived to fetch my daughter her eyes were swollen from crying and I just wanted to kill the person who had done this to my little girl.

Reporting a rape

Her dad came home and we went down to our local police station to report what had just happened to our daughter. When we arrived the constable at the reception desk recognized her dad who is a detective in the police service and his whole demeanor was friendly. I allowed my husband to do all the talking. They spoke in Afrikaans. The constable asked what he could do for us, her dad explained that we were there to report a rape and pointed to my daughter.

“Just a little rape case”

The constable said he would call sergeant so-and-so to handle the complaint and take our statements. My ex said No, he wanted another detective to take this case. The constable looked at him and said “Why, it’s just a little rape case?” My ex then leaned forward and said “Because it’s my daughter”.  “Oh!” said the constable, “Captain, why didn’t you say so in the first place!”
This just made me think, that if I was a woman on my own, trying to report this ‘little rape’ as he put it, how differently I would have been treated.

More humiliation

The next step was to go to the district surgeon and have our daughter examined for evidence of rape. Because the incident occurred in the Mitchells Plain area, we had to drive back there to have this done. The thought of putting my daughter through the humiliation of having some stranger examine her down there, after what she had just been through was quite nauseating. The examination showed that there was a little vaginal tearing and there was proof of sexual activity.

Then we were off to the local clinic, where she was given the morning after pill and an HIV test. We had to endure a lecture about what to do in the event the HIV test was positive. Thankfully it was negative, but they informed us that it could take several months to show up and she was put on a course of antiretroviral drugs just in case. To be re-tested in three months time.

Now all that was left was for justice to take place and the accused to be arrested.*

*The culprit was caught, admitted “sex with a minor” and was given a three-year suspended sentence, and ordered not to travel within a certain distance of my daughter’s school or home during that period. No statutory rape charge, no rape charge, no jail. The prosecutor attempted to persuade the girl to drop any charges.

My daughter says of this experience: “It was a long time ago, I have grown from this and it has made me a stronger person”.

To my beautiful, brave daughter - You have grown into such a lovely young woman and I am proud of you.
(Names withheld for reasons of privacy).

Editor's note:
Survivors of rape and sexual assault (including children) are often further traumatised by the experience of  a court case, especially when the case relies on witness testimony, DNA samples which may take months/years to process and also having to face their attackers not only on court but while waiting in the corridors outside. Many parents refuse to put their child through this additional trauma. This is in part why reported rape stats are a fraction of actual occurences. Reporting a rape and enduring a court case shoud be made less traumatic by training police officers, revamping courts and providing adequate counselling.

Resources for parents:

Child abuse: you can help
Protect your family against abduction

Has your child ever bunked school?
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