South Africa: The police never returned

Date: November 28, 2013
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Limpopo, 29 November: In May 2012, I walked to the taxi rank so I could go into town to collect money from my mother’s younger sister to buy some food. When I got to the taxi rank, there were no taxis. I waited with a few other people until dark. Around 6pm a taxi passed by so we got into it. When I got out at the next bus stop, another taxi pulled up. A woman got out of the taxi and started running away, clutching her handbag tightly. Two men started chasing after her. When I was about to cross the road I saw the men coming toward me saying, “Let’s help her to carry her things.”

One of the men pulled out a knife and pointed it at my chest while the other man took everything that I was holding and said, “We are not going to any house, we are going to the bush. Don’t scream otherwise we will stab and kill you.”

I kept dead quiet out of fear. They dragged me into the bush and said that they needed money. Because I didn’t want them to steal it, I had already thrown it on the ground as we were walking. I gave them my handbag to search. When they found nothing, the one man said, “It will be better if I kill her.” The other man said he wanted to rape me.

He told me to take off my clothes but I refused. I offered to take him back to where I dropped the money or take them to an ATM to withdraw money. One of the men took the card but the other said to me again, “I want to rape you.” He threatened me by saying, “Do I have to stab you to make you take your clothes off?”

I co-operated and took off my trousers. He laid me on top of my trousers and raped me. I begged him, “Don’t ejaculate inside of me,” and he said, “You don’t tell me that! Are you scared of getting pregnant or getting diseases? “It doesn’t work like that.”

When he was done, he called the other man to rape me. After the second man was done, he said he was going to find the cash I’d thrown out on the road. As he left, he said if he did not find the money he would kill me and that if I tried to run away he would look for me until he found me. The one who raped me first raped me again. When he was done, I asked to please go and relieve myself.

I grabbed my phone and ran. He was angry and chased after me with a knife. When he caught me, he slapped me; I kicked him and we started fighting. He beat me on my face and strangled me. He put his knife to my throat and said, “I will kill you, even though it wasn’t my first intention.” He then grabbed me and took me back to where they had already raped me three times.

The other man returned and said I had no money on my bankcard. He accused me of messing with them. I thought they were going to kill me. They then both raped me again one after the other. I was raped five times.

They left and I ran to the nearest house. When my mother arrived with the police, I started crying. The police made me feel bad, asking, “Where were you coming from at night? Were you not aware that it was getting late? Now see what these people have done to you.” I tried to explain what had happened but they said I must go to the hospital trauma center.

My neck was bruised and sore from when they strangled me, and I had bitten my tongue while they beat me. My face was swollen. When we got there, the nurse helped me, a doctor examined me and then a policewoman took my statement.

They told my mom to go home, but she refused so we both slept at the trauma centre. An advocate woke me up in the morning, told me to take a bath and really cared for me and treated me sensitively.

Another police officer arrived to take my statement again, as he was supposed to be investigating the case. The following day the police came to my home because I had heard from other girls that they knew the rapists. I remember them well. One of them had a dark complexion, short hair and wasn’t very tall. I hadn’t seen him before. He was wearing a black jacket, faded jeans and sneakers. The other man was tall with a dark complexion. He was wearing a black jacket, orange T-shirt, dark trousers and takkies.

I was hurt when the police officer said there was no evidence and that my descriptions could easily implicate any ordinary person. Since then the police have never called me or returned.

I was consumed with fear knowing they were walking the streets. Even at home, I was nervous. I would jump at every sound. At night, I would lie in bed awake. I’m still too scared to go out, visit friends or go to the shops. When I do venture out I am always alert and looking around. I’m worried I will bump into the two rapists. I lost hope of getting justice because the police never updated me of any progress.

I still hate most men. I respond to them in anger and get scared when I see people with similar features to the two men who raped me.

After what happened to me, the father of my child showed his support and love. He didn’t leave me and he took time off from work to be with me. My family and friends also stood by me and cared for me. I started spending more time at church so that I could take care of my soul.

I received got counseling at the trauma centre so I felt freer and stronger. I also got support from my church. It encouraged me to see that there is still love. Even the ward counselor came to visit me and took time to talk to me. I am also part of a support group where we talk about our experiences. I learned that if somebody needs help, we need to do our best to show full support, because people have done that for me.

*Not her real name

Prudence lives in the Limpopo province. This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links News Service as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender violence, encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.


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