Lucas Munzhelele from Denosa gender commitee joined the rally outside Parade.Cosatu has organised a rally to speak about rape and killings against women in South Africa. Picture Cindy Waxa
Lucas Munzhelele from Denosa gender commitee joined the rally outside Parade.Cosatu has organised a rally to speak about rape and killings against women in South Africa. Picture Cindy Waxa

You are more likely to be raped in your own home, so where are women safe?

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Jul 31, 2020

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Johannesburg - Four out of every 10 people who were raped during the 2019/20 financial year, were raped at private residences belonging to the victim or the perpetrator, or the neighbour or a relative.

This means rape victims are more likely to be raped behind the walls of a private residence, than they are in dingy abandoned buildings, which account for less than two out of every 10 rape cases.

Police Minister Bheki Cele released the crime statistics for the 2019/20 financial year on Friday. The statistics show that 42 289 people were raped in the reported period between April 2019 and March 2020.

From those rape incidences, 18 231 victims were raped at a private residence which belonged to them, the perpetrator, family, friends or a neighbour.

The province with the most rape incidences taking place at private homes was Limpopo, with 3 998, followed by Gauteng - 3 521, and the Eastern Cape and KZN, were tied, with 3 192.

There were 7 940 rape offences that took place in public places such as the streets, open fields, parks, parking lots and abandoned buildings - which accounts for two out every 10 rape cases.

With 2 122 rapes taking place in public areas, Gauteng had the most cases in the country, followed by KZN with 1 275 and the North West province, with 1 109 cases.

Mpiwa Mangwiro-Tsanga, the regional campaigns advocacy specialist for Sonke Gender Justice, says women are not safe anywhere and that there is a sense of impunity which prevails around the rape subject.

She said that there 4/10 rapes taking place in supposed safe spaces such as private homes was a “sobering statistic”.

“Violence in South Africa and sexual offences have become so entrenched that even in those spaces where expect women to be safe have become the most unsafe spaces,” she said.

She said there was a bad culture which saw rape as a private matter to be resolved behind closed doors and said the 42 000 rape cases were not indicative of the true picture.

She said only one in nine women reported rape and the true rape picture was closer to 300 000 cases.

“This is a small glimpse of what the true picture is. We know that women do not feel safe to report these cases and there is a sense of impunity which prevails. We know that women do not trust the justice system.

“When we see 42 000 cases in the crime statistics, be rest assured it is not a true picture of reality… We are living in a country where we are at war with women,” she said.

She said the fact that there were almost 8000 rape cases which took places at open public spaces such as parks and parking lots showed that perpetrators were not afraid.

“Girls and women are not safe at home and they are also not safe outside, we are in a crisis and there is no place of refuge for women and girls,” she said.

“There is also the victimisation of the victim, we treat victims like they are the accused, we ask what did the victim do, what was she wearing and was she drunk.

“In South Africa, a woman can be raped everywhere,” she said.

Meanwhile, there were 380 rape crimes which took place at educational institutions such as schools, universities, colleges and daycare facilities, this accounts for 0.8% of all rape incidences.

Gauteng, KZN and the Eastern Cape had the most rape incidences at schools - with 96, 61 and 61 cases respectively.

There were also 351 rape incidences which took place on transport modes such as buses, cars, minibus taxis, planes or boats.

At alcohol establishments such as bars, pubs, taverns or night clubs, there were 348 rapes, with more than half of the rape violations taking place in Gauteng (192 cases).

On business premises, there were 260 rape cases, 167 cases at hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, 161 at farms, 76 at railway tracks or stations, 43 at bus stops, 18 at mining areas, 16 at government buildings and five at petrol stations.

Gang Rape

The crime stats also highlighted 11 instances of gang-rape where seven or more perpetrators were involved in the rape of one victim.

In an incident which took place in Ikageng in the North West, a victim was lured to ‘smoke pipe’ with an acquaintance who was a gang member. The perpetrator along with 19 other gang members, raped the woman in the bush.

In Ngcobo, in the Eastern Cape, nine suspects - all men and among them a man known to the victim - raped a victim at her home for two days in succession.

In KwaMashu, in KZN, a drunk victim was raped by eight men in the toilet of a tavern. She knew one of the men.

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