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No real redress for violence

The rape of a young girl in Uitsig led to a peaceful protest in front of the Caledon court.

“The rape happened on 8 February and the victim was a 12-year-old girl,” said Tanya Bippert, founder of #BeAHero and a One Billion Rising SA Rural activist.

She said the community told her on Sunday morning (9 February) about the incident, and she immediately visited the family to offer support and comfort. “The girl has seen someone for trauma counselling and we will be making trauma support available to the whole family as each family member has been affected in one way or another,” Bippert said.

She said a community meeting was held on Monday evening, 10 February, to discuss the issue of gender-based violence and community support for the girl and her family. Bippert confirmed the two suspects appeared in court on 11 February. “We as a community held a peaceful picket in front of the court on Tuesday morning and then joined the family inside the court. We are asking for no bail for suspected rapists and no release of suspects of rape.”

She said the community of Sitesaviwa in Caledon was very upset when a rape suspect was released back into the community on 7 February. “I tried to get the reasons from the prosecutors why the suspect was released and no one informed the mother of the child victim,” Bippert said.

“Understandably they cannot give me the information, for the victim is a child. The mother bumped into the suspect on Friday and in shock realized that he was released.” She said despite 2019’s being a landmark year for more proactive commitments from the powers that be, the community members remain profoundly shocked at the violence, abuse and rape that continue in their midst.

“The President promised us on 5 September 2019, that there will be no bail for rapists, but yet again we see suspects released back into the community,” Bippert pointed out. “How many of our children, women, men, gender non-conforming persons and lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, genderqueer, queer, intersexed, agender, asexual and ally community [LGBTIQIA+] will have to pay the price, for nothing is being done to assist activists, NGOs and communities fighting gender-based violence?” She said more support is needed in rural areas.

“We need safe houses, trauma centres, trauma support room at hospitals, VEP rooms at the police stations need to be updated, LGBTIQPA+ holding cells at police stations, educating our communities on what their rights are and how to report abuse, educating our children and youth, rehab centres for alcohol and drug abuse, ongoing trauma support classes for survivors, parenting classes, entertainment centres for our youth where they can play games in a safe environment. Big companies must start investing in communities, supporting them with the necessary resources.”

WO Eduard Coetzee, spokesperson for Caledon police, confirmed two rape cases.

“On 8 February, at 21:00, a 12-year-old girl was on her way to the spaza shop to buy some sweets.” Someone grabbed her from behind and put his hand over her mouth. Two assailants dragged her to a wendy house. Here cellotape was wrapped around her mouth and her arms tied with a rope. “One man raped her several times,” Coetzee said. Two suspects, aged 29 and 31, respectively, were arrested and appeared in court on Tuesday 11 February on charges of kidnapping and rape. They are still in custody and will appear in court again on 24 February.

In another incident on 7 February, also in Uitsig, a 21-year old man was on his way to a spaza shop when he met a man who invited him to his house. “On arrival at the suspects’ home a knife was held to his throat and he was raped.” The suspect was arrested and appeared in the Caledon court on 11 February. The case was postponed to today (18 February) for bail application.

•WO Coetzee urges parents not send their children to spaza shops at night. “Do not walk alone, do not send children to the shops alone, do not send your child to the bank with your bank card.” He stressed most incidents occur because of people walking alone or in dark areas.

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