Pretoria – The neighbour of a Soshanguve Extension 14 man who confessed to raping his daughter, aged 9, has been commended for reporting the matter to police.
The father was arrested on Friday – a day when the country was marking the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.
Police spokesman Captain Mathews Nkoadi said they were notified by a neighbour, who had seen that something was not right with the girl. On arrival, they found her looking traumatised.
“The neighbour said the girl had been acting strangely and was often isolated. She became suspicious and reported the matter to the police,” he said.
Nkoadi said they found scratch marks on the girl’s back and took her to a clinic, where a medical practitioner confirmed she had been repeatedly raped and assaulted.
“The girl informed police that she had been raped by her father who was present in the house at the time. The man was immediately arrested, and he confessed to having slept with his daughter on several occasions,” he said.
“The girl’s mother apparently disappeared a few years ago, leaving her alone with the father. It also emerged that whenever she refused to sleep with him, he would beat her up. This is what caused the scratch marks on her back.”
The man was scheduled to appear on charges of rape in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Mbuyiselo Botha, of the Commission for Gender Violence, applauded the neighbour for reporting the matter.
“This is the attitude that all community members should embrace; those who commit crimes against women and children should and must not get away with it.”
Botha said a large number of arrests, convictions and sentences would send a clear message that the country was alive to the plight of women and children’s abuse.
“Yes, we’ve made progresses that are positive, but that does not mean that we have arrived in solving the scourge; sometimes you find that there are a number of cases that are not reported to the police,” he said.
Botha said the inescapable reality was the need to acknowledge that police had to get more intensive training to have a better understanding of the law. “Sometimes we find that police officers tell the victims the matter was a family affair and they should go home and talk about it.
“There is a need for more magistrates and judges to be appointed in greater numbers in order to deal with these cases. We are not just imposing what we think will solve the issue, but are highlighting the problem which needs a solution.”
Clinical director at the Teddy Bear Clinic, Dr Shaheda Omar, also commended the neighbour. “This is in line with the spirit of ubuntu. Today it is a neighbour’s child, but next time it could be yours. People need to be on the lookout for any suspicious behaviours and report these to authorities,” she said.
“Nothing will happen to you if you report abuse; those who are uncertain can report it anonymously. If all of us don’t take a stand, the problem is not going to go away.”
But Omar said, although awareness of women and child abuse had grown over the years, more still needed to be done particularly with regards to how the police handled such matters.
“What is lacking is that people are not being helped speedily and sufficiently enough when they report matters,” Omar said.
“The challenge lies with the SAPS and the brutal interrogation and questioning of victims who report such matters.”
Omar said people would often report that the police would ask victims questions such as “why do you think this happened to you and not someone else?”
Despite there being a unit within the police to deal specifically with cases involving women and children violations, she said often the support staff were not adequately trained to carry the cases forward.
“You find that the police officer who is properly trained and allocated the case may be on stress leave. The substitute officer will come in and they may not have the accurate training and their response might not be sensitive to deal with the matter.
“The (NPA) also doesn’t always put cases on the roll where it is not certain to get a conviction and this serves as a further deterrent to victims. To communities, it sends out the message that if they report the abuse, they are not going to see justice or receive help.”