Port Elizabeth - Rape survivor and Gauteng businesswoman Andy Kawa won her civil claim against the Minister of Police in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.
If Kawa manages to prove damages she could receive just over R2.3 million from the state.
Almost eight years after a brutal attack that lasted 16 hours, Kawa sought justice by suing SAPS for R5.8 million.
Judge Sarah Sephton in her judgment said that the police's negligent breach of its duties in failing to conduct a proper search and investigation made SAPS liable to pay 40 percent of her claim if she is able to prove damages.
The court also ordered SAPS liable for Kawa’s costs of trial and the costs of her legal counsel.
On December 9, 2010, Kawa was allegedly abducted while walking along Kings Beach, held hostage and gang-raped for a period of 15 to 16 hours in sand dunes.
Kawa managed to escape from her abductors the next day.
In 2012, Kawa pointed out her alleged assailants during a protest march along the same beachfront, but the charges against the two men were withdrawn when DNA evidence failed to link the men to the brutal attack.
The defendants in the civil case included the police minister; Brigadier Ronald Koll and the two investigating officers who were assigned to her case.
The court dismissed the action instituted against Koll and the investigating officers in their personal capacities.
Kawa has claimed that the SAPS wrongfully and negligently breached its duty to investigate her allegation that she had been abducted, held hostage and gang-raped by a group of men.
She claimed that police also failed to search the area in the vicinity of the car park at King Beach, where her car had been left and broken into at the time.
In addition, police were delayed in responding to the call by joggers who assisted Kawa after the attack, who reported at the time that she had been found on the beach after she had allegedly been raped.
Police were also accused of failing to search the area of the sand dunes after Kawa had reported the allegations at the police station.
According to court papers, one of the investigating officers in the case claimed that he was unable to conduct the investigation properly because of a lack of transport and insufficient airtime on his cellphone.
In court papers, Kawa said that she herself had to conduct the investigation into her own rape case and collect evidence. She claimed to have suffered post-traumatic stress and depression and has not returned to her brokerage consultancy since the attack in 2010.
According to Kawa, engaging in civil litigation was essential to her not being silenced. She saw it as crucial to regaining her voice and breaking the silence, not just for her but for other victims of sexual violence too.
The court found little doubt that Kawa had suffered significant trauma.
The court further found that if SAPS had conducted a reasonably effective search of Kings Beach, Kawa would have been found by 1:30am at the latest and spared from a further four and a half hours of her ordeal.
The court also highlighted that from a psychological and psychiatric point of view, the prolonged life threatening incident carried the predominant weight and cause of the psychiatric illness Kawa was diagnosed with.
African News Agency (ANA)