A 16-year-old girl was attacked, tied up, stripped naked, strangled and raped three times in Masiphumelele in the early hours of Sunday June 5.
The day after, still in shock, she insisted on going to write her maths exam.
Her attack has traumatised her, her mother and her community.
The girl, speaking to the Echo through a translator, said she had been to a friend’s home and was walking home afterwards when a man grabbed her from behind, tied her hands and pulled her jersey over her head so she couldn’t see him. He pulled her into the darkness and raped her, for the first time. He then left her tied up and had a cigarette nearby.
Then he tore her clothes off and raped her again. Once again, he withdrew, while she struggled in vain to get free of the ropes.
He then raped her for the third time, before leaving her.
The girl, who is not being named to protect her identity, crawled on her knees to a home with its lights on.
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She pleaded for help, and the occupants of the home took her in, wrapped her in a blanket and arranged for her mother to fetch her and take her to hospital and the police station to report the crime.
Captain Angie Latchman said the the girl had reported being attacked in Kolobe Street , at 3am. The man had pulled her into a nearby property. “where he allegedly raped her”.
No arrests have been made yet.
Captain Latchman said it was important for a rape survivor to report the crime to the nearest police station within 72 hours.
“The SAPS has designated police officials that deal specifically with sexual offences who will then take a statement from the victim. The investigating officer will make sure that the victim gets examined by a health professional, who will complete a medical report and collect medical evidence. Victims are cautioned not to wash or change clothing after such an incident, as evidence needs to be obtained by the health professional,” she said, adding that survivors were also advised to seek counselling.
This 16-year-old spent the next night away from home, with Rosemary Milbank, from a neighbouring community, where she slept and was protected. Ms Milbank said Victoria Hospital staff had counselled the girl.
Ms Milbank, who heard about the attack the following morning, tracked the girl down.
“I found her in her mom’s shack, shivering and shaking and in pain. She could not eat or drink because of being strangled so badly and gagged, and her neck was swollen and badly bruised.
“I managed to help her to take some yoghurt and the medication from the hospital and after a sleep she felt a bit stronger,” she said.
Miles Collins of Rape Crisis said the SAPS provides a support service to survivors and counsels staff on how to avoid compounding the trauma for someone opening a case..
He also said that the incidence of male rape, where men and boys are raped, is equally as under-reported as rape of women and girls. “Under-reporting is a very big issues in South Africa, and that being said, very few boys and men come for counselling at our centres. We know that it’s not because boys and men aren’t raped.”
The Rape Crisis website says that 10-20 percent of all males will be sexually abused in their lifetimes. Mr Collins said that male rape survivors may feel too ashamed to speak out believing that they were not “man enough” to protect themselves. However, he says the force used by a rapist to subdue a male victim can often be much more violent than that used towards a woman. Counselling is available for anyone who has been raped, he said.
Police are appealing to anyone with information to make contact with the Investigating Officer, Detective Warrant Officer Vumile Swartbooi from the Muizenberg FCS (Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit) at 021 784 2700 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111. Information is treated confidentially.
Information in side bars from Rape Crisis:
Straight after the rape:
What to do;
1. Go to a safe place as soon as possible.
2. Tell the first person you see and trust about what has happened. This person will sometimes be asked to go to court to support your story. Make sure you have, and keep, their contact details.
3. If you are badly hurt, go straight to a hospital or a doctor. The police can be called to the hospital, or, the police can take you to a hospital if you are hurt.
4. If you are not HIV positive and fear that you have been exposed to HIV, you need to receive medical attention within 72 hours (three days) of exposure, although the sooner the better.
5 The sooner you can get to a police station or a hospital the better, because:
• the criminal has less chance to escape
• you may be able to remember more about the rape right afterwards
there is physical evidence on your body that links the rapist to the crime, and this evidence can get lost quickly.
There are medicines you need to take to aid your recovery (to prevent pregnancy or disease) that only work within 72 hours (three days) after the event.
*side bar 2*
What to expect when you report a rape:
Go to the nearest police station and tell the person at the front desk that you want to report a case of rape.
You should be taken to a private room where a volunteer will be available to support you and explain the procedures.
A policewoman/man will take a statement of what happened in your own words. The police will open a docket and investigate the crime.
You will be sent for a forensic medical examination at the nearest health facility (the police should take you there).
A doctor will examine you in detail and may take blood, hair and other samples for DNA analysis.
You may also be offered medical treatment, after which you may go home.
If you don’t want to report the rape, it is still important to get medication to prevent HIV within 72 hours.
For further information, call the 24 hour Crisis Line on 021 447 9762 or visit: www.rapecrisis.org.za