Gang rape case postponed for 'further investigation'
Angry women protested outside the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on Thursday when seven people, including two minors, appeared for allegedly gang-raping a Soweto teenager and video-taping the act.
They briefly appeared in camera before the case was postponed to April 25 for further investigation, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said outside court.
“We need to get a psychiatric report into the mental status of the girl, because for now we don’t know for sure whether she is mentally unstable or not,” he said.
“We also need to determine the condition of release in respect of the minors, because there are minors and there are adults involved.”
The seven, who matched the descriptions of the men in the video, were arrested in Dobsonville, Soweto, on Tuesday.
The video of the 17-year-old girl being raped went “viral” on the internet on Wednesday.
Place of safety
Mhaga said the girl was in a place of safety. He warned people who had a copy of the video that they were breaking the law.
Members of the girl’s family were outside the court, and Gauteng safety and security minister Faith Mazibuko was there to support the girl and her family.
“We need to fight this scourge that is in our communities. All those that are doing wrong things to women must be brought to book,” Mazibuko said.
“We want to call on all men and women ... As men let’s use our brains to think, let’s not use our trousers to think. If you use your trouser, your trouser will put you in jail.”
Women and Men against Child Abuse spokesperson Vincentia Dlamini Ngobese said: “We want this child to have alternate care and we want the perpetrators to face the long arm of the law.”
About 30 women from the ANC Women’s League, wearing party colours, arrived at the court in a bus. They were armed with posters reading: “cut their penis—no bail”, “let them rot in jail” and “done with rapists”, and sang struggle songs.
‘Strongest possible punishment’
“We are sad. This thing is hurting, it is paining ... We are here for our child who was raped,” protester Albertina Sishuba said.
Women’s league spokesperson Troy Martens said: “We want them, even the minors, to get the strongest possible punishment that the law will allow.”
Journalists were not allowed to attend the court proceedings because minors were involved.
The accused will face several counts of rape, sexual assault, engaging the sexual services of a minor for reward, using a minor to create child pornography, committing a sexual act in the presence of a minor and committing a sexual act in the presence of an adult, said Mhaga.
“They will also be facing charges that relate to the contravention of the Films and Publications Act which is creating, possession [of] and distributing child porn,” he said.
Mhaga said the NPA had not considered charging the girl’s mother, or the 37-year-old man in whose house she was found on Wednesday.
“The police are still conducting investigations… We don’t have evidence at this stage that can [be used to] formulate charges in respect of their role in the whole scheme of things,” said Mhaga.
All seven of the accused had requested Legal Aid assistance. The minors had been taken to a youth facility and the men were being held in the awaiting-trial section of a correctional services facility.
Gauteng social development minister Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said she was shocked by the rape and said offences like this lowered the dignity of women and girls.
The girl would receive counselling and other psycho-social support.
Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane urged the community to work with the police to help find anyone else involved.
“Residents should approach law enforcement agencies whenever they see such crimes—before they become viral,” Mokonyane said.
Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said: “It is difficult not to be overwhelmed with anger at this barbaric act.”
The South African National Aids Council men’s sector said rape and violence against women was a “social time-bomb” in the country and a plan was needed to address the problem.
“We are extremely horrified and shocked by the ever-increasing inhumane and barbaric acts by some males in South Africa,” the council said.
The Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) said technology had contributed to a spike in cases of abuse against women and children.
“Our children have easy access to the internet and as such they have an easier way to get through to the pornographic sites. That is a problem,” Azapo said.