The all-woman hit squad shoots back at rapists

A woman is raped every eight minutes in South Africa, according to People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa) – and in two bizarre cases recently, rape victims have resorted to counter-violence. Last month, a man was killed and several others injured when four balaclava-clad women opened fire on patrons in an Orlando East, Soweto, shebeen. The attackers made it clear that the shooting was in response to a gang rape in Soweto, in which nine women were abducted and raped. The female "hit squad" allegedly included one of the rape victims.

The group raided several other shebeens in an apparent quest for information relating to the rape, but no shots were fired. Describing the women as "professionals who knew exactly what they were doing", shebeen queen Elizabeth Kgomotso told the press that the attack on her premises was like a Western movie.  She said: "About 70 customers were present at about 11pm where four women, who looked very pre­sentable, stormed into the shebeen, saying they were looking in the dining-room. "After an hour, one of them stood up and went to the dining-room.  I saw her nodding her head and lifting her fingers, as if she was counting.

"The rest of the women followed her into the nearby room. I then saw one woman standing on a table bran­ dishing a firearm. The others stood on guard they were also armed. "The one on the table yelled: 'You. can't attack innocent women without being punished. Today we are going to stop this carnage, because all men are responsible'. "One man who was sitting next to the window burst out laughing. The women became angry and opened fire. There was chaos as we ran in all directions and ducked for cover. "The shooting lasted about 10 minutes. The  'hit  squad'  ordered  all 10 men to leave the shebeen and outside, while the men were questioned about men known to be involved in acts of violence against women."

Patrons at Kippie's bar in Johannesburg, who ask not to be named, told of similar incident recently. They say a woman who had been having a drink with friends suddenly stood up and headed towards the bar, where she drew a knife on a man. Acquaintances said this was in revenge for an earlier rape  attempt which had left her horribly scarred. A fight ensued, which was stopped by the bar's patrons before anyone was hurt. The incidents can be seen as acts of desperation by women who feel inadequately protected by the law. According the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of Offender s  (Nicro), there  when 15 816 reported rapes in South Africa in 1986 and 18 145 in 1987. But Nicro believes that only one rape in 21 is reported -meaning that the act to figure for 1987 was nearer 360 00(or nearly 1 000 a day….

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.

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Thandeka Gqubule
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