Durban - “I understand now why people don’t report rape.” These were the words of a mother who has not only borne the ultimate pain of hearing her teenage daughter was raped, but had to watch helplessly as her child was treated with disdain by police.
The 35-year-old Durban woman is also facing the possibility that her daughter’s alleged rapist - her father - will be released on bail tomorrow.
Speaking from her workplace on Tuesday, an upmarket retail outlet on the Berea, she told how her daughter, a usually soft-spoken, warm-hearted, although sometimes fiery 16-year-old, had become withdrawn, was unwilling to eat, and insisted on sleeping on a mattress on the floor instead of in her bed.
The alleged rape occurred at her 46-year-old father’s residence in the Point area in February.
“She completely broke down when she told me,” the emotional mother said on Tuesday.
On the evening of the alleged rape the teenager was phoned by her father, who pretended to be a male friend. He told her to go to her father’s house, where he was waiting for her with a “surprise”.
On arrival, she was greeted by her father, who took her to the bedroom, made her sit on the bed, and blindfolded her, saying her friend was going to bring her a present.
“She felt someone touching her and she pushed him away, starting to fight. She knew it was her father as she felt his crooked knee, which had been injured in a car accident. But he raped her.”
The woman took her daughter to the police station at about 10.30pm that night to open a case. The police arrested her father, but then took the teenager to his holding cell and, in front of him, told her that if she was lying she would be prosecuted.
“She was in tears and ran out to me, telling me that they don’t believe her,” the mother said.
After that, the mother and daughter sat at the police station until 1.30am, as no-one had told them the procedure. Her daughter had not yet been examined by a district surgeon.
Eventually they were told they needed to go to the Point police station.
“The policewomen who drove us there were laughing at us,” she said.
Eventually the teenager was examined by the district surgeon and left the Rape Crisis Centre at Addington Hospital at 4.30am. The following day she was taken to the scene of the alleged crime to show police where it happened. And that was the last she and her mother heard from the police about the case.
“I called all the time, asking when he would be appearing in court, but no one knew anything about the case. No one could help me or even give me a case number.”
The mother was contacted only on Tuesday by a police detective, who wanted to get her daughter’s permission to release him on bail.
“I told the detective we were opposed to bail, but she told me that she needed to ask my daughter. I told her that she is a minor.”
Police did not comment on the teenager’s treatment but said ordinary procedure was that the victim be taken to a “victim-friendly facility” to be interviewed and then to a district surgeon for examination.
The case number was then SMSed to the complainant, and the investigating officer would update the complainant on the status of the case.
The case is now being investigated by the Durban Central family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit.