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Accused gang-rapists scheduled for rare trial in South Africa

By Adriana Stuijt     Mar 1, 2009 in Crime
Monday March 2 is the start of the trial of four of five alleged gang-rapists of 22-year-old Jessica Foord in Durban High Court in South Africa, exactly one year after it took place. This trial is unusual: only 7.6% of all S.A. rapists are ever tried.
See our previous stories about the gang-rape youth cult in South Africa here and also here
The victims' supporters are expected to show up in full force to protest against the culture of gang-rape in South Africa. see
It is very unusual in South Africa to get anyone tried for rape, and even more unusual to obtain a conviction for rape, says the SA Human Rights Commission. In fact in 2008, only 7.6% of all the reported rapists were caught, tried and sentenced to prison. And the SA Medical Research Council says that only one in every nine women report rape to the police. The only reason that the gang-rape of Ms Foord has gone to trial, is because of their own growing militancy to get the rapists arrested and tried. Both father and daughter have spoken up repeatedly and publicly, and are well-supported by their own community. All want to see justice done.
Most rape victims in South Africa, in fact nine out of ten, don't even report the rape to the police.
Miss Foord was gang-raped on March 2, 2008 at their smallholding near Shongweni Dam west of Durban while walking her dogs with her elderly father Tim. Her father was tied to a tree and forced to watch four members of this gang allegedly brutalize his daughter. They carried guns and knives. One, a minor, was tried and imprisoned in a youth facility last year. The other four - adult men whose names for some reason 'may not be published', have pleaded not guilty and their case started on March 2 this year.
Jackrolling rape gangs
Such "jackrolling' rape gangs' of young black males are so commonplace in this increasingly dysfunctional society that it is barely reported in the news media these days - unless the rape victims themselves speak up and put so much pressure on local authorities that they eventually find and arrest them.
Black youths are the dysfunctional lost generation:
Eric Pelser, executive director of the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention see in Cape Town says that South Africa's millions of black youths have become totally dysfunctional: the ' lost generation ', growing up without any education and in an atmosphere in which crime and gang-rape are normal behaviour. He blames the 'pervading culture of violence during apartheid', which system of government ended fifteen years ago.
Kids play 'rape me, rape me' games"
Violence has also become so pervasive in South African schools - not only amongst unemployed youth gangs -- that children as young as 7 play games such as “rape me, rape me,” where students simulate sexual attacks,” according to a chilling report by the SA human rights commission.
The research, which took 18 months to complete, was mostly done in Western Cape province. Statistics were in short supply because most assaults in schools go unreported to the police, the commission said. School authorities tend to want to keep these secret.
Red Cross hospital specialises in repairing raped infants:
And while the SA Police Service 's official crime statistics claim that reports of child-rapes have 'shown a decline', the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town instead show a rapid rise of cases they have to treat. This hospital staff specialises in repairing the often horrendous genital damage done to raped infants in South Africa. see
Lesbian students raped 'correctively'
And all these reports say that physical attacks at schools in South Africa are 'alarmingly commonplace", including a phenomenon known as “corrective rape” where boys assault lesbian students to try to turn them into heterosexuals.
Only one in 9 women report rape to police
South Africa is a nation of 47-million people, where sexual violence is on the rise. In 1992 the number of reported rapes and assaults was listed at 42,429. By 2005, the number was up to 55,114. The 'official' police records claim that there since has been a 'dramatic drop' in the number of reported rapes - however this statistic is contested by the SA Medical Research Council's hospital records. The SAPS statistics for 2008 were 6,763 indecent assaults, and 36,190 rapes
While reported rapes and sexual assaults are one indicator of levels of violence, a 2002 report by the Medical Research Council there also notes that only one in nine women reports her assault to police. Add to that the fact that only 7.6 percent of trial cases ever end up tried and with a defendant found guilty.
The picture becomes clearer, and we begin to understand a seemingly incomprehensible news story.
If South African youth are growing up in a culture where sexual violence is normal and prevalent, and punishment for offenders is extremely unlikely, perhaps it is not surprising that children mimic the worst of what they see in the adult world. see
Noteworthy event: convicting a rapist
That's why that one conviction in the Foord rape case was a noteworthy news event, as is the trial of four alleged rapists from Monday. It may even draw some local news media attention. The only reason for this however is the fact that the Foord father and daughter decided to publicize their ordeal. They founded Powar, the Project by Women against Rape: see
Specialised rape-trauma units
They want to raise funds to found a "Powar" hospital, where victims can be treated and cared for by specialised rape-trauma units.
Oprah Winfrey show
South African women and girls are increasingly activist about the rape crisis in their country. Many are speaking up frequently and publicly -- and some anti-rape campaigners have also been given access to one of the few US news media shows which frequently highlights the South African rape crisis, namely the Oprah Winfrey show.
They say that if the rape victims don't ring the alarm bells frequently and constantly, nothing whatsoever will be done by the South African authorities to help the victims -- by putting more rapists on trial and also by providing better after-rape trauma care than at the present time.
Two journalists raped while reporting on AIDS-epidemic
More and more women and children who have become victims of rape, are joining the anti-rape campaign, and each one has a horrendous story of their own. For instance two South African journalists, see who were covering stories about the HIV-AIDS crisis were both raped several years ago -- and were left to wonder if their own futures might now include a painful death from the very epidemic they were sent to write about.
Veronica's Story gradually changed its emphasis from the horrendous rape crisis in these two women's own homeland of South Africa to the one in the equally lawless society in neighbouring Zimbabwe. see The Veronica's Story anti-rape campaign has since 2007, been sponsored by the Clinton Foundation. see
And the South African Red Cross Society this week again kicked yet another of its many anti-rape campaigns, which will run until November 10. Red Cross branch manager Grace Vilakazi says from Bloemfontein in the Free State Province that the rape of women and children countrywide has become 'epidemic.'
More about South africa youths, Jackrolling rape gangs, Soweto youth gangs, Rape epidemic
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