The Johannesburg chemical engineering student told a harrowing tale of how she was raped one evening while leaving campus in 2017.
She said her rape put her in a hospital psychiatric ward as she battled to come to terms with what had happened.
“Only in South Africa can a woman get into a taxi and get raped, carry the shame and the stigma of being violated and still have to defend her dignity and existence. I did not see myself going through the system, not like that. I’m aware that people might judge me for the decision not to open a case, but that is the price I am willing to pay, a small price at that,” she said.
The woman said watching Nigerian televangelist Timothy Omotoso’s rape case on TV - where his lawyer, Peter Daubermann, caused an outrage when he asked Cheryl Zondi, the complainant, by how many centimetres Omotoso had penetrated her - has convinced her that she made the right decision not to go to the police.
She said after her rape she sank into deep depression, was suicidal and landed in a psychiatric ward for what seemed like eternity.
“Firstly, I wanted to tell my family but I never quite got to tell them. Secondly, I did not want to be the face of rape and, thirdly, I did not want to be violated through the justice system of having to sit there and prove that indeed I was raped, as if I was not there,” she said.
“The roller-coaster ride which ensued was more painful and more traumatic than the rape. I felt like I had been hit by a truck and I was picking up a million pieces of my life, my body and my dignity off the ground in a futile exercise.”
She has likened herself to an “anonymous face” in a protest. However, she remained behind those who have taken the decision to report cases.
“I root for those who report cases and decide that they are going to fight to the bitter end to get justice. I will not make that decision anytime soon maybe in future,” she said.
Recent annual crime statistics indicated an increase of rape cases from 39828 in 2016/17 to 40035 in 2017/18. The National Prosecution Authority’s 2017/18 annual report shows that there has been an improvement in the conviction rate in sexual offences, at 72.7%. The report said 6879 sexual offence cases were finalised with 5004 convictions - the highest rate in the past five years.
Women and Men against Child Abuse activist Vincentia Dlamini said women who have been raped should find strength in those who come forward and testify against the perpetrators.
She said courts need to be complainant-friendly and have guidelines on how they are cross-examined to avoid secondary victimisation.