The jus­tice sys­tem has let me down – rape ac­cuser

African Times - - Politics - PIET RAMPEDI

THE woman who ac­cused a se­nior Limpopo govern­ment bu­reau­crat of rape be­fore with­draw­ing the charges says she feels let down by the coun­try’s jus­tice sys­tem.

The 29-year-old mother of three says the trau­matic treat­ment she re­ceived in the hands of the author­i­ties af­ter lay­ing the charges would de­ter other rape vic­tims from re­port­ing cases of sex­ual abuse in fu­ture.

This came af­ter she and her al­leged abuser with­drew their counter charges of rape and ex­tor­tion at the Polok­wane Mag­is­trate Court on Mon­day. They had spent the week­end in po­lice cells af­ter lay­ing charges against each other on Satur­day morn­ing.

Speak­ing to African Times this week, she said the po­lice and the jus­tice sys­tem have let her down and sub­jected her to se­condary trauma.

“I am glad it’s over but I am not fine. I have been let down by the po­lice and the jus­tice sys­tem,” she said.

The woman from Tlok­weng in Botswana also pleaded with the paper not to re­port about her past, which is marred by al­le­ga­tions of al­leged crim­i­nal con­duct, car theft and ex­tor­tion.

She said pub­lish­ing such a story would fur­ther trau­ma­tise her and cause ten­sions be­tween her and her new hus­band.

“What will it take you not to write about this? You tell me you are a journalist, what takes you not to write about some­thing,” the make-up artist asked.

“You wouldn’t want to meet me in per­son? I can drive to Polok­wane. Hon­estly, I don’t want this to come out. I just wanna bury this. I have told you ev­ery­thing. The only rea­son I don’t it to come out is be­cause of my fam­ily, my hus­band, and my kids.”

She added: “You guys are trau­ma­tis­ing me. You don’t un­der­stand. Where I am sup­posed to be given sup­port, all you do is trau­ma­tise me. Are you aware no other woman will ever re­port rape against these peo­ple who ter­rorise us? Do you know how many pills I am tak­ing per day at the mo­ment? I am from the hos­pi­tal. They con­firmed ev­ery­thing and gave me pills for ARVs. But you are trau­ma­tis­ing me and want to write about me”

The woman said she had gone through a lot since she laid the rape charges against the govern­ment of­fi­cial on Satur­day morn­ing at the Polok­wane Po­lice Sta­tion. She was sub­se­quently ar­rested along­side the ac­cused af­ter he laid a counter charge of ex­tor­tion.

“Al­ready I am deal­ing with a lot. I don’t wanna lie I am deal­ing with a lot at work. If we can come to an un­der­stand­ing and my name is not in your paper, I can do that. I am just beg­ging you to kill the story hu­man be­ing to an­other hu­man be­ing.”

She said her col­leagues had been gos­sip­ing about her since the rape al­le­ga­tions sur­faced. And she feared she might be sus­pended from work if her name were to ap­pear in the pa­pers. “Now it is just ru­mours. But if there is a case against me, they will say now we de­cide one, two or three,” she said.

“My hus­band is shocked. He is an­gry at me.”

On Mon­day morn­ing, charges were with­drawn with­out both par­ties set­ting feet in­side the Mag­is­trate Court – much to the dis­ap­point­ment of the me­dia con­tin­gent that had packed the court room.

This led to her lawyer, Tumi Mok­wena, ac­cus­ing the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity of treat­ing her un­fairly. He ac­cused the po­lice of keep­ing her in jail for no ap­par­ent rea­son, and with­out bail, on a mi­nor charge of ex­tor­tion.

“We ob­vi­ously con­tested against her ar­rest be­cause ex­tor­tion is in the first place not a sched­ule one of­fense. They did not have to effect ar­rest. She is a rape vic­tim and we ex­pected the jus­tice sys­tem to be softer on women. It was a clas­sic ex­am­ple of a pow­er­ful man against a per­son the con­sti­tu­tion is sup­posed to pro­tect,” Mok­wena said.

EFF Limpopo Sec­re­tary Jossey Buthane, whose party had taken up the woman’s case and of­fered her le­gal sup­port, re­it­er­ated Mok­wena’s as­ser­tion that the rape ac­cuser had been treated un­fairly by the jus­tice sys­tem.

“All women of South Africa, let’s gather and fight. The EFF will sup­port you. It’s a right­ful cause. The restora­tion of the dig­nity of a black woman. We will stand with you re­gard­less of who is the per­pe­tra­tor,” he yelled.

For the ac­cused’s sup­port­ers, the rape case smacked of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence and ha­rass­ment of po­lice by the EFF to set­tle po­lit­i­cal scores.

“We are say­ing hands off to our leader. We think all this mess is a po­lit­i­cal game by the EFF. Jossey Buthane is go­ing up and down and wants to set­tle scores. Mr. Buthane must wait un­til the court makes a fi­nal de­ci­sion. No one is guilty un­til the judge says so,” said Mphoza Masha­bela, the pro­vin­cial co­or­di­na­tor of Limpopo Artists.

“But since Thurs­day Mr. Buthane was go­ing up and down mak­ing press state­ments be­fore the ac­cused could even come here in court. We think this was just a trap. Re­mem­ber, we are go­ing to the elec­tions.”

Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Bakale, spokesper­son for Botswana’ Se­ri­ous Crimes Of­fice, promised to com­ment af­ter check­ing the cases. He had yet to re­spond by the time we went to print.

Photo: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/Vis­ual Buzz SA.

DIS­AP­POINTED: The rape ac­cuser’s lawyer Tumi Mok­wena says the jus­tice sys­tem has failed her.

Photos: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/Vis­ual Buzz

CRY­ING FOUL: Rape ac­cused’s sup­porter Mphoza Masha­bela and EFF Lim­poopo sec­re­tary Jossey Buthane.

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