Alleged rape victim wants to sue suspects 40 years later
Pretoria - A woman who claimed that she was gang-raped 40 years ago during a party at a house in Durban now wants to sue her alleged attackers for R600 000 in damages.
However, in order to do so, she first has to have the law changed regarding the prescription on civil claims.
The woman, 57, who cannot be identified due to the nature of the alleged crime, issued summons against two of her alleged rapists in the high court in Durban.
Besides denying knowing her, let alone raping her, they objected to her claim on the grounds that she should have in law launched her civil claim three years after the alleged incident, unless she could prove that she was not able to do so at the time.
In papers filed at court, the woman said she was suing for a debt based on the commission of a sexual offence in terms of the common law and statute.
She said she was unable to institute legal proceedings over the last 40 years as she did not want to disclose to her parents that she had been the victim of a sexual offence, as well as the nature of the offence. She feared that she would not be believed or supported by her parents and that she would be blamed for what happened.
She also feared that if she disclosed at the time what had happened to her, it would have harmed her father’s reputation in the community.
According to her, she also feared that she would have been blamed for what happened to her and labelled promiscuous.
She said she felt ashamed and alone over the years and it was only now that she was able to deal with the issue.
The woman said in court papers that she went to a party “one evening in November or December 1981” where she was gang-raped for about three hours.
She cannot remember the street name of the house where this occurred.
She did, however, know that it was in a suburb in Durban.
She explained that during the evening she and the first defendant (none of the alleged rapists’ names may be disclosed at this stage) had consensual sex in one of the bedrooms.
According to her, he then invited several of his friends into the bedroom to have sex with her too.
The woman said she only knew one of the men (second defendant) and the others were unknown to her.
She said over about three hours each of them took turns raping her.
This continued until the brother of one of the alleged rapists came into the bedroom and chased the men away.
She said the first respondent, who she trusted and who was her friend at the time, had a duty of care to ensure that she was not harmed.
She said she was the only woman at the party and her friend thus had to ensure that she was not harmed.
It is stated in her court papers that she had suffered severe emotional and psychological trauma as a result of her ordeal.
She was humiliated and degraded, she said, which resulted in the impairment of her personality and psyche.
She now suffers from depression and an extreme low self esteem and she battles to have relationships.