Durban - A Durban regional court magistrate has warned a woman who falsely cried rape about the seriousness of her actions, and said it had been the third such incident before him in just one week.
The woman, 18, in a bid to have charges against the accused withdrawn, told magistrate Anand Maharaj on Friday that she had laid charges against the young man in the dock for raping her because she was upset.
It appears she had caught him in a compromising position.
Maharaj said it was the third case in his court in which a woman applied for charges to be withdrawn after making a false statement that she had been raped.
“You can’t charge someone for something they didn’t do. This is disconcerting and does not bode well for women who have been raped,” Maharaj said to the evidently embarrassed teen in the witness box.
In April the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court fined an 18-year-old schoolgirl R1 000, or 50 days in prison, for perjury after she falsely accused a police constable of rape.
The teen apparently told the police she had reported the “rape” because she was scared of her parents reaction after having had consensual sex with the man.
Advocacy groups and police said these incidents adversely impacted on the way rape cases are handled.
Police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said yesterday that rape was a national priority crime so police were obliged to threat reports with urgency and respect.
Mdunge said the law was clear about people who make false statements.
“Once you make a false statement… it is tantamount to perjury, which could lead to jail time.”
He said the resources devoted to dealing with such crimes were enormous and it was a shame when false allegations were made as that time might be better devoted to investigating genuine cases.
Jessica Foord, a rape survivor and founder of the Jes Foord Foundation, said making a false statement was a serious crime and girls should not mess with the law.
“I always tell girls that having sex has consequences and they need to make sure that they are ready. Being raped is a scary experience. Before you implicate someone, think about the trauma that a victim of rape goes through. It’s a serious crime,” Foord said.
“Because of these false cases many genuine cases get scoffed at,” said Desmond Lesejane, deputy director of the Sonke Gender Justice Network.
False accusations undermine efforts at combating rape, he said.
Perhaps it was time to speak more clearly about false accusations of rape without undermining the broader issues, he added.