Zara Nicholson and Michelle Jones
IN South Africa 144 women report rape to police every day – that is six cases reported every hour. While the number of reported rape incidents is shocking, under-reporting is an even bigger problem. The Medical Research Council’s (MRC) latest research reveals that only one in 25 women in Gauteng report rape.
Extrapolated, up to 3 600 women could be raped in the country every day.
South Africa’s latest crime statistics revealed a decrease in reported sexual crimes but in the small town of Bredasdorp where Anene Booysen, 17, was gang-raped and murdered, sexual crimes have increased.
The brutality of Booysen’s rape and murder has sent shockwaves throughout the country.
Crime statistics released last year for the period April 2011 to March 2012 show there were 64 514 sexual crime cases reported to police, down from 66 196 the year before.
But Bredasdorp, a small town about 200km from Cape Town, had seen an increase in the number of cases – there had been 60 reported during the period, up from 47 the year before. There were 9 153 reported cases in the Western Cape, down from 9 299 the year before. Only Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape had more cases.
Rachel Jewkes, head of the MRC’s gender and health research unit, said rape statistics were twofold – those reported to police and those not reported. Six rape cases are reported to police every hour. “Rape is however monumentally under reported. Based on our research on women in Gauteng in 2010, only one in 25 women who had been raped reported it,” Jewkes said.
The MRC previously said the national figure was that one in nine women report rape, but Jewkes said they believe the problem of under reporting is much greater. In their 2010 research one in four (25 percent) of the women they spoke to said they had been raped.
Some of the city’s courts also reveal a high number of rape cases heard. NPA spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said on average they received between 25-30 new rape matters each month and between 40-45 rape matters for trial on the regional court roll a month. At the Parow Regional Court there is an average of 26-30 rape cases a week. This week it is dealing with 26 cases. Bellville Magistrate’s Court receives between 10-15 new rape cases a week.
At Goodwood District Court there are nine rape cases on the roll for this week. At the Goodwood Regional Court there are 16 cases on the roll this week and three to four rape matters are finalised with a verdict a month. At Cape Town Regional court this week there are 15 cases. There are a further 10 matters on the district court roll for first appearances, further investigation and bail applications.