People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) has condemned the granting of bail to a Limpopo councillor and his three alleged accomplices who have been charged with the kidnapping and assault of a pregnant woman in the Steve Tshwete Municipality.
Ward councillor William Phetla, 39, along with Kholofelo Manola, 31, Lui Nkadimeng, 48, and Thabo Ntuli, 24, received bail in connection with the crimes committed against a 29-year-old domestic worker.
Mhluzi police arrested Phetla and the three men after the woman was rescued by residents on Tuesday.
Police spokesperson Selvy Mohlala said the woman was accused of stealing a laptop which belonged to Phetla.
“She was allegedly kidnapped and severely assaulted with some objects, including a garden spade before they locked her in a room.
“Further allegations indicate that her assailants burnt chillies whilst she was inside the room.
“She was later rescued by community members and in the early hours of Tuesday, 25 July 2023, she reported the matter at Mhluzi SAPS,” said Mohlala.
Mohlala added that the suspects were arrested and appeared in the Middleburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.
“Phetla was granted R3 000 bail while his accomplices were granted R500 bail each. The case was postponed until August 25, 2023,” he said.
Mpumalanga provincial police commissioner Semakaleng Daphney Manamela condemned the acts of Gender-Based-Violence (GBV) and encouraged other victims to report any form of GBV to the authorities.
Powa legal manager Naledi Kuali said the violations committed against the woman were unacceptable.
“I am shocked. We do this work everyday and I cannot imagine the trauma, pain and fear the woman went through. People are abusing their power. We can't constantly live like this.
“The country has a very low bar for bail, which leaves us as women unsafe.
“There are flaws in the system. Black women are not protected and not prioritised. This type of conduct could have been stopped.
“This victim has low bargaining power hence they felt they could violate her dignity in this manner”.
“Our legal system needs not be lazy. There is a lot of rhetoric and money put into GBV but the authorities need to also have a firm hand.
“She has been let down, we need to capacitate women. This speaks to the attitude as well.
This is unconscionable, these men have no regard for the women at all, there's no scarier feeling than what this woman went through,” she said.
The Steve Tshwete Local Municipality did not respond to requests for comment by deadline on Thursday.