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Young men in Durban have been warned to be on the lookout for sexual predators after 19 have woken up to find they have been raped and dumped, the majority in central city flats, after a night out.

Speaking to parents and pupils in Durban this week, the chief executive officer of Rape Wise SA, John Buswell, said they discovered the shocking trail of rapes, which appear to have been taking place since February in upmarket pubs and clubs of Durban, including Durban North and Umhlanga.

In an interview with The Independent on Saturday, he said the men could not remember what happened and were too embarrassed to report the attacks to police.

However, police have urged anyone who has suffered this crime to report the incidents and have guaranteed confidentiality.

Buswell said: “We were carrying out sexual assault and trauma training at eight different hospitals in Durban and the greater area, when we picked up a disturbing trend in rape cases involving young men aged from 15 to 28 years.

“We decided to investigate and 19 cases have surfaced.

“None of the victims reported the rapes to the police because they felt too ashamed and in some cases, they have not even mentioned it to parents or family members.”

During the investigation of one case, it came to light that footage of the rape had appeared on a pornographic website and Buswell said that could indicate a syndicate may be involved.

“Two of the rapes occurred when the victims attended home parties and the other 17 rapes took place when the victims had been out at bars or clubs. These victims all come from affluent backgrounds and the target market is upper class youngsters. We believe the attackers blend in to the party scene and will be well-dressed.

“We suspect Rohypnol and GBH were used to drug the victims, as well as the veterinary drug, ketamine hydrochloride.

“One of the victims only woke up two days later.”

In many of the investigated cases, the victims had woken up in Durban central city flats.

“While they woke up in different flats, the pattern was the same in that the flats were all central and practically empty of furniture.

“We are also looking at the possibility of ketamine being put into ice cubes to drug the victim,” said Buswell.

KZN director of ChildLine, Linda Naidoo, said last night they had also experienced an increase in boys and men coming into ChildLine’s after-hours counselling centre with regard to rape and sexual assault. “We have been shocked to see this increase, which is very unusual. Regardless of their age, our counsellors have debriefed them and they have been referred on for therapy,” said Naidoo.

LifeLine Durban’s director, Pravisha Dhanapalan, said they had also noticed a marked increase in males seeking face-to-face help.

LifeLine SA offer telephonic and face-to-face counselling.

“They are mainly the 18 to 27 age group and in many cases have cited depression as the problem. It is very unusual for a man to admit he’s depressed, so there could be underlying causes,” said Dhanapalan.

While the police said they could not comment on the validity of such allegations because cases had not been opened, SAPS spokesman Col Jay Naicker urged victims to report rape or sexual assault cases.

“We would encourage rape victims to open cases, so we can pick up such crime trends. All victims are guaranteed that their identity will remain confidential,” said Naicker.

Buswell also appealed to victims to contact Rape Wise if they need help.

“Generally boys are not brought up thinking they are in danger of being raped. If it does happen, they need to seek immediate medical attention, particularly because of the risk of exposure to Aids,” he said.

- Rape Wise SA is an organisation made up of legal and health care professionals and can be contacted at 083 943 0173 or e-mail - Independent On Saturday

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