A magistrate’s court in South Africa has sentenced a 44-year-old man to life imprisonment for raping his mentally challenged niece.
According to Bloemspruit police spokesperson Sergeant Ikobeng Hlubi, the incident took place on Saturday, January 2, 2019, when the victim was approached by the suspect in an open field.
The suspect subsequently asked the 17-year-old victim to accompany him to his house in Bloemspruit and raped her when they got there, according to TimesLIVE.
“The victim was assisted by neighbours who alerted the police and the uncle was arrested and has been in custody since his trial,” police spokesperson Hlubi said.
“His sentence has been welcomed by the community members who have been supporting the victim throughout the trial and gave witness statements,” she added.
The rape case was almost quashed following the “victim’s inability to cope with her ordeal,” reports said.
This comes on the back of another rape incident in a South African special needs school last month that almost got brushed off by school authorities.
A 13-year-old South African boy suffering from Down syndrome was allegedly raped by a male general worker and subsequently locked in a classroom at the special needs school in Benoni.
The victim’s mother’s initially claimed that the accused was allowed to continue working though the incident was reported to authorities at the school.
The accused subsequently went through a disciplinary procedure and was immediately suspended while investigations commenced into the incident.
Rape and violence against women have been an ongoing problem in South Africa, with children and teenagers being the worst affected.
Many attribute the types of rape they see in South Africa to those perpetrated during armed conflict, in terms of the degradation, ritual humiliation and the extent of injuries, such as mutilation, that are involved, according to reports by rapecrisis.org.za.
Researchers have found that South African women are raped and then murdered twelve times more every year than in the United States.
Police crime statistics released in September 2015 state that in 2014/2015 there were a total of 53 617 sexual offences reported to the South African Police Services (SAPS), translating into 147 cases per day.
There are so many other incidents of rape that go unreported due to reasons such as the fear of retaliation or intimidation by the perpetrator, the personal humiliation of being exposed as a victim of rape and the fact that many survivors lack access to services.
In August last year, women in various parts of South Africa took to the streets to protest the increasing levels of gender-based violence in the country.
Dubbed an ‘intersectional women’s march,’ the march organized by WomenProtestSA called on men to stop the abuse of women and children.
This week, thousands of women in the country marched to parliament in Cape Town to highlight their plight. Dressed in black and purple, the march was also to commemorate the lives of those who have passed away through sexual violence in August, considered to be the most deadly month for violent crimes against women in the country.