SOUTH AFRICA: Government Must Reinstate Special Rape Courts

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Southern Africa
Southern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

Earlier this morning I protested along with the Democratic Alliance Women's Network (DAWN) outside the Roodepoort Magistrates Court. Our protest coincided with the start of the trial of the four boys and three men who are accused of the brutal gang-rape of a mentally disabled girl in Soweto.

We protested today in solidarity with that young lady and all other women and children who have been sexually abused. Our demand is simple: Government must reinstate special rape courts to bring those guilty of rape to justice more quickly.

It is estimated that a rape occurs every seven seconds in South Africa.

In the face of that horrific statistic, it is difficult to understand why sexual offences courts were shut down in the first place. Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has announced an investigation into the reopening of these courts and we are urging him to go about this with the utmost urgency.

It is also important that specialised sexual offences prosecutors are trained to ensure that sexual offences cases are dealt with properly and speedily. The combined efforts of specialised courts and specialised prosecutors are the best way to ensure that the guilty are brought to book quickly.

This morning, the case was postponed until 6 September, with the accused out on bail. If we had specialised sexual offences courts in place, this case could be handled much faster.

There are far too many rapists that have evaded our criminal justice system for too long. We call on government to take this issue more seriously by reinstating the specialised sexual offences courts as soon as possible.

We must stop the violation of our women and children's human dignity, and uphold their right to justice and safety.