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Durban - Major-general Apaphia Modise, who leads the South African Police Service (SAPS) Thabong Cluster in the Free State, said on Monday that she was 'concerned' at the rising number of rape cases reported in communities such as Meloding and Thabong. 

Modise said via a press statement that the cases involved women and children who "become victims under various circumstances which include alcohol abuse and neglecting their own safety". 

Modise said that a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped on Sunday last week in Meloding while she was returning from a tavern, at about 4am, with a friend. 

"They met three unknown African men. Two of them allegedly grabbed her and one of them raped her. The friend managed to run away. The suspects are still at large," she said.

On the same day, at about 3am, an 18-year-old woman was allegedly raped by an unknown suspect at an unnumbered shack near Kopano Indoor Sport Centre in Thabong. Modise said the young woman was at a tavern when the suspect allegedly took her by force to the shacks near the centre and raped her. The man locked her in a house but she managed to escape when his girlfriend arrived. 

"[Three] other rape victims alleged that they were raped inside their houses in separate incidents in Thabong over the weekend after drinking sprees. They were allegedly highly intoxicated and only found out in the morning that sexual intercourse had occurred. One male was arrested and another known male is at large while the last one is unknown."

Modise advised citizens, "especially young women", to take responsibility for their safety by: 

- not walking in poorly lit places at night; always walk between houses if possible

- trying not to walk alone 

- telling friends or family of their whereabouts and expected times of arrival

-  avoiding staying at taverns the whole night

-  partying responsibly 

"When you feel that you can’t drive, call a trusted friend to fetch you. Avoid drinking [yourself into a] stupor and don’t leave [your beverage] unattended because it might be spiked. 

African News Agency (ANA)