Community wants justice after child ‘molested’
The community in Chungwa street, Khayalethu are calling for justice after a young girl was allegedly molested by a shop owner on the morning of 27 August.
Her mother, whose identity is withheld to protect the 11-year-old minor, said, “I sent her to the shop before 10:00 but she quickly came back frantic and told me he touched her upper body and private parts.”
The concerned mother said she then rushed to the shop to confront the man, who is Somalian.
“He denied touching her, but when I told him I was going to call the police he apologised and told me it wouldn’t happen again and suggested we sit down and talk about it,” continued the concerned mother.
The mother said she then called the police and told a community elder, Gcinikhaya Mbombo, what happened.
Mbombo said he had to “rush to the shop and ask the Somalian to close his shop as he feared if the community found the shop open they might take justice into their own hands and harm him, which could quickly be mistaken for xenophobia”.
According to Mbombo the police arrived two hours later and arrested the man, but his concern is that this might not be the first time the shop owner had molested a minor.
Knysna police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies said the family violence, child protection and sexual offences (FCS) unit based in George is investigating a case of sexual assault following the alleged incident, which occurred at about 09:20 according to Spies.
“Investigation led to the arrest of a 35-year-old suspect,” said Spies.
The accused appeared briefly in the Knysna Magistrate’s Court on 28 August and is out on bail of R4 000. The next court date is on 9 October.
The shop has been closed, but Mbombo alleges that other community members have come forward saying they, too, were molested by the shop owner.
He added that the community feels let down by the justice system: “This is the second time the justice system is failing us, with the first incident having taken place two years ago.” According to him a man who was renting the same shop, also a Somalian, stabbed a community member. “Although he was arrested and granted bail, that is the last we heard about the case,” Mbombo said.
He asked how the Khayalethu community is supposed to feel safe to raise their children.
The community in Chungwa Street, Khayalethu say they are united in getting justice for the child who was allegedly molested by the owner of this shop on 27 August.