‘Women and children abused despite 16 Days of Activism period’

Three women security guards were allegedly raped at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport offices in Merebank on Monday. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/Independent Newspapers

Three women security guards were allegedly raped at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport offices in Merebank on Monday. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 28, 2023


Durban — A social justice organisation said that every year, despite the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against Women and Children, rapes and abuse are still reported.

The Soul City Institute for Social Justice was reacting to the rape of three women security guards at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport offices in Merebank on Monday.

Soul City Institute for Social Justice chief executive officer Phinah Kodisang said: “We are currently in the 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against Women and Children, and as it always happens, year in, year out, over the last 25 years that South Africa has been commemorating the 16 days, we see how violence, rape and many other forms of abuse continue to happen even in the period where we are creating a space to say no, enough is enough, we still see people doing what we saw happening in KZN, where three women were locked up and raped at the Transport Department.”

Kodisang said this happens because we have not as a country, been holding perpetrators accountable.

“How, if we fail women, do we expect that perpetrators will take us seriously when we say there must be no violence against women and children but when they commit the violence, when they perpetrate violence, nothing happens to them?” Kodisang continued.

“Our prosecution rate is still sitting at below 8%, which is sending a strong message to the victims, to the survivors, and a clear message to perpetrators that they can do what they want and get away with it.”

Meanwhile, political parties, the DA and IFP, also reacted to the incident.

DA KZN spokesperson on community safety and liaison Sharon Hoosen said women continue to be targeted whether in the privacy of their homes, travelling to work, in public spaces or even while at work.

“It would be appreciated if the MEC could advise if these facilities have functioning cameras,” Hoosen said.

“For far too long perpetrators of rape victims get away with and walk freely on our streets while the victims will be scarred for life and will continue to live in fear.”

Hoosen added that criminals have more power in this province and if a proper forceful, clean-up operation does not happen quickly, increase raids, stop and searches, and visible policing then this government can expect the same result.

IFP leader in the KZN legislature and community safety and liaison spokesperson Blessed Gwala said perpetrators of gender-based violence (GBV) must be punished.

“We need a no-nonsense approach to deal with perpetrators of GBV and urge the courts to show no mercy to anyone found guilty of these horrific crimes. Regretfully, we have noted the increase in the number of repeat or habitual offenders of GBV. We plead with our justice system to be tough on repeat offenders, and for the Department of Correctional Services to exercise caution and vigilance when granting parole,” Gwala said.

He said the incident happened after the recent debate on programmes aimed at Ending the Tragedy of Gender-based Violence and Femicide in our Lifetime, as highlighted in the 2023 State of the Province Address in the KZN legislature, where the IFP stated categorically that it is against GBV, irrespective of who is involved.

“The IFP believes the fight against GBV must be a 365-day-a-year project, not only during 16 Days of Activism,” Gwala said.

He said laws must have teeth to bite. Crime is getting worse by the day, with no hope of abating. If the laws of the country are weak, brazen criminals will continue to terrorise communities with impunity knowing there are few, if any, consequences. Perpetrators of all the horrors are guaranteed their human rights as a point of departure when confronted by the law. If the crime and criminals are given too much leeway, then only the laws and criminals will see the light of the day, while citizens are left six feet underground.

“More resources must be deployed to eradicate crime,” Gwala added.

The Department of Transport said that the department within eThekwini has been subjected to the operations of a criminal syndicate, attacking staff members at gunpoint, and stealing brush cutters and other equipment. In another incident, a departmental grader was recovered in Camperdown.

It is alleged that heavily armed criminals entered the Department of Transport offices in Merebank in eThekwini at around 2.30am.

They held three men security officers hostage, who belonged to the private security company contracted to the department. Three women officers who were held at gunpoint in another room were sexually assaulted and raped. The criminals also stole departmental work tools which are used for road maintenance and other assets.

The women were taken in for medical examination and cases were opened with the police.

KZN police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said Wentworth police are investigating cases of business robbery and rape following an incident on November 27, 2023, at a business premises on Sialkot Road. It is alleged that the victims were robbed in the early hours by eight unknown suspects who took various equipment and also raped three security guards.

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