About 200 women, men and children gathered on the corner of Wale and Bree streets on Thursday. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus
About 200 women, men and children gathered on the corner of Wale and Bree streets on Thursday. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus

More victims step forward with sexual abuse claims against Bo-Kaap brothers

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Oct 26, 2020

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Cape Town - More women have come forward accusing two elderly Bo-Kaap brothers of sexual abuse decades ago. One of the brothers, through his lawyer, however, denied all allegations of abuse.

This follows the YouTube video released by a young family member of the brothers, accusing the one brother of sexually abusing her while she was very young.

They said they were also prompted after reading a lawyer’s letter – which was sent to the Cape Argus, the Daily Voice and Voice of the Cape radio station – from one of the brothers denying all allegations made against his client, calling it “wild, unsubstantiated and untrue”.

"It is unfortunate that this allegation has been made in the public domain and my client invites anyone who accuses him of any such conduct to charge him formally with the South African Police Service," said the letter from the lawyer.

"In the circumstances, and should such a charge be laid against him, my client would welcome a prosecution so that he may clear his name of any such allegations.

"My client wishes to place on record that he has been a lifelong advocate for the rights of women and children and he strongly and unreservedly condemns gender-based violence and sexual abuse of any form."

The three women whose identities are known to the Cape Argus, said the letter served as the last straw for them.

A 29-year-old woman said she was 11 years old when she decided to confide in someone about the abuse, which started a few years earlier.

At the age of 8 or 9, the abuse had consisted of mostly non-consensual touching and rubbing against her. She confided in her parents and two school friends at the time. It then stopped.

The reason for her speaking out now, she said: “It’s not stopping. It’s just going on and it’s almost like they have so much power, and nobody will believe them (the victims).”

A 37-year-old family member said the abuse started at the age of 9 or 10, with mostly inappropriate touching.

One memory that continues to haunt her was when she was younger and there was a function at his brother’s house. He was told to get something from his house and he asked her to accompany him to the house.

“Because you are so scared, you don’t want to say no, so I went with.”

No one was at the house and he had cornered her in his bedroom.

“He would push me up against his bedroom wardrobe and rub against me and squeeze my breasts and kiss my neck. That is one thing that plays over.”

Once she was older, she made sure to distance herself from him and made sure they were never left alone.

She said upon reading the lawyer’s letter she had a breakdown at work.

“I wanted to scream… how can he say that and lie because I know what he did and know it was not just me.”

She said he would mostly make unwanted advances at her when his wife was not around.

“No one knew about it. I always said it’s something I’d take to my grave. The reason why I never came out to anyone is because they are people with power.

“The reason why I did those things to you was because you were very insecure as a child and you needed help,” she recalled him saying once over the phone.

She said that because of their prominence in the community, she was afraid to speak up on the abuse and because of their close proximity to the family, she would not be laying a criminal charge.

Another woman said she believed she was among the first to have been assaulted by him several decades ago.

“When puberty hit, he used to tickle my neck and play with my breasts. I was 10 or 11.”

She said she had confided in her sibling at 18 years old. She was aware that she was not the worst case: “There are more victims in the family.”

A second person has also come forward as a survivor of sexual abuse by his brother, also a decades long former Cape Town educator and principal.

This follows less than a week after a Cape Town born woman, revealed in a video that she had been sexually abused by her paternal grandfather, from the age of 5. The video uploaded just a week ago has over 107 000 views on YouTube.

The woman, who did not want her name published, said she was in Grade 4 when she first accused her grandfather. “No one believed me and so the abuse continued. I was told they’re old, so they’ll die soon and it’ll be fine then.”

Now living in a Middle East country, she said there was never an opportunity to open a criminal case against him. As a child, she lived on the same property as her grandfather. The abuse ended when she was 11 and moved with her family abroad.

The latest young woman to have recently come forward is a close relative of the woman in the video. She said the abuse started when she was 8 years old and ended when she was 14.

“The first incident happened after I took wudu (washing before prayer) in the bathroom and he came in and when I walked out he pulled me back and held my wrists. He kissed and groped me. Then someone downstairs told me to hurry up, so he let me go and told me I’d make a good wife and then we all made salaah.”

She said she had only found out that others had also been abused by him in 2017 and 2018.

On Saturday, EFF members protested outside the residence of the two accused in Upper Bloem Street, demanding that they leave the community. A memorandum was handed over stating that their actions had “violated the spirit of the community”.

Police spokesperson, Noloyiso Rwexana said no criminal complaint against any of the alleged perpetrators had been lodged.

Cape Argus

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