Johannesburg - A Palm Ridge family in Ekurhuleni are seeking justice and closure after their minor child was raped and later committed suicide by consuming rat poison.
Alwande Dlamini, 16, was raped earlier this month. On the same day of her ordeal, she committed suicide.
She left a voice recording (in The Star’s possession) where she detailed suffering at the hands of a male friend, identified as *Sipho (not his real name), whom she accused of raping, assaulting and torturing her.
Speaking to The Star, Alwande’s emotional aunt, Sibongile Tshabalala, said the family were not coping well, knowing that a perpetrator who allegedly raped their child was still roaming the streets freely.
Tshabalala said on August 6, after returning from church, Alwande asked where she was, and she told her she left the main house for an outside room.
She later returned to the house.
She said she asked if she should dish up something for her and she said she wanted something light. She sent Alwande to a local spaza shop to buy biscuits, and she ate four.
“Within an hour, I heard her scream while I was in the outside bathroom; she told me she ate rat poison. I asked if I abused her or was not taking good care of her, and she told me she was raped by *Sipho from Phase 1. I bought and made her drink milk; white foam came out. She was rushed to Ramokonopi Clinic, and a doctor declared her dead,” said Tshabalala.
She said police arrived at the facility and took a statement, which she signed.
Realising that the incident happened within the Eden Park police station area, she went there to find out the status of the case.
Tshabalala complained that the investigating officer and other police officers at the station did not display sympathy, to the point that one officer discouraged them from going ahead with the rape case.
“We were advised not to go ahead with the rape case, he said, saying we would lose because there wouldn’t be enough evidence. How can he say that? We gave police the undergarment that Alwande wore on the day; if police are serious, they can find the perpetrator’s fingerprints,” she said.
She said initially one case was registered after Alwande’s passing, but after persisting, a case of rape was also opened.
“I fought for the rape case to be opened. I was shocked to learn that a doctor at the Germiston mortuary had cleaned Alwande’s body without collecting evidence that would prove she was raped. She also had bruises on her neck, proving that she was assaulted. The doctor suggested that we hand in the undergarments Alwande was wearing,” said Tshabalala.
Alwande was buried on August 19, and the family are reeling from pain.
Tshabalala said the biological parents of Alwande, especially the mother, were not taking her tragic loss well. She said the mother collapsed while at work.
The perpetrator is a tenant in someone’s home. Tshabalala and the police went to look for him, but they were told that he had not been at his place.
“I am not okay; I can’t sleep because I always think about my baby,” she said.
Tshabalala said in one WhatsApp group, a number of restaurants accused the suspect of abusing them but when they asked for more information, the people declined, saying they feared him.
Gauteng SAPS spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi confirmed that police were conducting an inquest and investigating a rape case.
If you, your teen or a loved one is feeling hopeless, alone, or having recurring thoughts of suicide or death, contact Sadag’s toll-free 24-hour Suicide Helpline at 0800 567 567. To chat online, WhatsApp a counsellor on 076 882 2775 (8am–5pm) or SMS 31393 and a counsellor will call back. Or visit www.sadag.org for more resources.