The justice system has let me down – rape accuser
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.
DISAPPOINTED: The rape accuser’s lawyer Tumi Mokwena says the justice system has failed her.
CRYING FOUL: Rape accused’s supporter Mphoza Mashabela and EFF Limpoopo secretary Jossey Buthane.