Statistics don’t describe impact
Seven years after her attacker beat and raped her, a 73-year-old woman from Wembezi, Estcourt, still fears the dark and men. But now there is some comfort for her in the imprisonment of her tormentor, who has been shut away for the rest of his days.
It took the justice system years to convict Delani Ngqulunga, 29, a serial rapist described as a monster by the policeman who finally arrested him. But it did eventually, and the 73-year-old and other women of the area can rest easier.
The victim’s story, told yesterday in the Daily News, was not intended to dwell on the bleak, the ample, miserable sores in our society. The aim, rather, was to humanise the abstract statistics which fail to convey the full suffering behind them.
She articulated it powerfully – the terror as he attacked her very near her isolated home on a plot several kilometres from Estcourt; the raw beating; limping home; the realisation that her family had not heard her cries because they were watching television; and the shame.
“I could not even look at them,” she said.
Then there were her tears in court as she stared at her attacker seven years later. And her thanks to God and the police. It was moving.
Hers was one story. The companion article told of the impact of rape on victims’ loved ones. Their trauma is also deep and often ignored.
Rape figures are difficult to come by now that police are wrapping them into a general category of sex offences (66 196 incidents in the most recent statistical year). Unofficially, according to the National Institute of Crime Rehabilitation, only one in 20 rapes is reported, so the real figure is estimated to be more than 494 000 a year.
A survey by the international police agency, Interpol, showed South Africa was the world leader in rape – a dreadful indictment of our society. Justice ground slow but sure in the 73-year-old’s case, but it is clearly not getting to grips with a plague that is devastating our women.