On just one day, nine men – including a father-and-son ‘team’ – appeared in the Johannesburg High Court for the alleged rapes of 62 women in and around Joburg.
The father and son from Alexandra face charges of 21 counts of rape, as well as charges of kidnapping, robbery, and assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The rapes took place at a wide variety of Gauteng locations, and occurred at all hours of the day or night.
There seemed to be no escape for women, who were attacked in deserted zones and busy Sandton, in Marlboro Drive early in the morning and Northgate Shopping Centre, where one victim was raped and robbed of R2 000.
Tiny Moloko, a social worker at People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa), said the high number of rape cases was a terrifying indication of the amount of violence being perpetrated against women in Joburg.
“Those numbers aren’t even a true reflection, as many rape victims don’t even come forward to tell their story. But at the end of the day, women are being raped and robbed and it’s clear that we are living in an unsafe world.
“And then in court, the prosecutors have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the perpetrator is guilty,” she said.
“It is so frustrating seeing victims being grilled in court. Our (Powa’s) legal department does try to assist rape victims with pre-court preparations, but all too often the alleged perpetrators get off for lack of proven evidence.”
Lisa Vetten, of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, described the upsurge of repeat rapists appearing in court as “terrifying”.
She said the increase was due to the government’s decision to do away with specialised police units, particularly those units that were dedicated to investigating crimes against women and children.
Vetten said dismantling the units had made it impossible for police in different stations to investigate these types of crimes.
According to Vetten, when the units were done away with, serial rapists managed to move from one area to another with ease, and without being detected.
“It was only a year ago that the specialised units were reinstated, which again allowed the police to investigate these crimes effectively.”
Mbuyiselo Botha, of the Sonke Gender Justice Network, said the growing number of crimes against women and children was linked to the increasing violence in SA.
“Some of these criminals have a feeling of invincibility. They believe that ‘I will get away with it, or if I’m caught, the possibilities are that I may get away scot-free’. They look at women as fair game, thinking there will be no consequences,” Botha said.
Botha has, however, acknowledged that the criminal justice system and the courts have acted harshly on these criminals in past cases.
“We need to encourage the courts to do more,” he insisted.
An expert on serial rapists and killers, Professor Anna van der Hoven, was shocked to learn about the father and son.
“These cases are not unusual, but rare. Usually, serial rapists and killers operate alone,” she said. - The Star