The temporary shelter for the homeless on a Strandffontein sports field. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
The temporary shelter for the homeless on a Strandffontein sports field. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Man, 36, accused of Strandfontein shelter rape gets R2 000 bail

By Staff Writer Time of article published Apr 14, 2020

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Cape Town – A 36-year-old man appeared in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate's Court on Tuesday over the alleged rape of an 18-year-old woman at the temporary shelter set up for the homeless at a sports field in Strandfontein.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the man had been charged with rape. 

"The State opposed bail, but the court set bail at R2 000 and the matter has been postponed for further investigation to May 14," said Ntabazalila. 

"According to the victim, the incident occurred on Wednesday evening, but it was only reported on Friday night," Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said at the weekend.

The Strandfontein site, which houses around 2 000 homeless people for the duration of the lockdown, has been mired in controversy since its inception.

Many homeless people at the site have accused the City of moving them there against their will and keeping them in conditions which some have described as akin to a concentration camp.

Volunteers from different Community Action Networks have written a letter, which will be sent to mayor Dan Plato, listing their objections and concerns about the living conditions at the Strandfontein Sports ground site. 

"The crisis that we are facing exposes more acutely the depth of poverty and inequality in Cape Town. As the regulations and lockdown begin to bite, too many people are hungry and without a home or access to opportunities to survive," the letter states.

In a statement following the rape incident, Plato said: "Law Enforcement officials from City of Cape Town responded immediately when an allegation of sexual assault was made earlier this weekend. 

"We are working with the South African Police Service (SAPS) Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit to investigate the allegation.

"Any accusation of sexual assault is an incredibly sensitive matter and the City is doing everything possible to ensure that it is handled in a manner befitting the situation.

"I find it alarming that some political parties have already seized on the opportunity to turn this into a political matter. No facts have been determined yet, so it is entirely inappropriate for an opposition political party to state as fact that an 18-year-old was raped.

"At this point, we can provide no details as the matter is under investigation. I have called on the SAPS to conduct and conclude their investigation with urgency so that we can provide the facts to the public of Cape Town in an environment where half-truths and misinformation is being spread like wildfire.

"We would like to reiterate that the site at Strandfontein was set up under the instruction of the national disaster regulations published by the national government. 

"We have explained the reasons for the location of the site, and we have provided an extensive list of the services that have been made available at the site.

"We were further advised by experienced NGO partners who care for the homeless community that housing people in social groups would avoid unnecessary tensions.

"Despite claims to the contrary, no person is kept on-site against their will, as has been proven by the relocation of a group back to Somerset West last week.

"The City is going to great lengths to ensure the well-being of those on-site, in accordance with the regulations of the disaster declaration.

"We are working hard to address any of the shortcomings that have been identified. Municipalities across the country have had to act with little preparation time and we are doing the best we can to provide these services under a very challenging time.

"One of the benefits of providing the temporary shelter is that hundreds of people have been screened for Covid-19 and tuberculosis, and those requiring medical treatment have been seen to as a result. This might likely not have happened if they had remained on the street.

"The ongoing political point-scoring in a time of one of the greatest health crises to face our country, and the globe, is shameful. 

"The malicious misinformation that is being spread is a disservice to the many organisations who have pulled together, with very little lead time, to provide this service. 

"We appeal to all organisations to respect the privacy of the individual who has reported this alleged rape so that the police processes may be allowed to be concluded as quickly as possible."

Cape Times

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