Rape and violence against women have been an ongoing problem in South Africa, with children and teenagers being the worst affected.
Citizens have been on alert and so when a seven-year-old girl claimed that she had been raped by a man in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, vigilantes from the area beat the man to death, only to later realise that he was innocent.
Mava Fundakubi, a 52-year-old man was dragged into the street and killed by the mob over allegations that he had attacked the child. But an examiner’s report revealed that the child had not been raped or molested.
“After consultation with doctors and the girl, it was found that she was not sexually assaulted at all. The reason for the claims is now being investigated,” police spokesperson, Captain Andre Beetge was quoted by TimesLIVE.
He added: “The killing happened when the mother had taken the daughter to hospital. What triggered the community to target him is still being investigated.”
“The suspicion that he raped her is proven to be false and detectives are now looking into a possible ulterior motive.”
The girl’s father has so far been arrested and charged over the murder. The 36-year-old appeared in the Motherwell Magistrates Court in The Eastern Cape on Thursday after handing himself over to the police this week, claiming he had attacked the deceased, before being joined by others.
The matter has been postponed until February 7.
Meanwhile, the police has warned the public against taking the law into their own hands.
“An innocent man was killed by [the] community based on a rumour and did not even wait to verify the truth of it,” Motherwell Cluster Commander, Major General Dawie Rabie was quoted by The Citizen.
“We are urging our communities to give information of suspected crimes to the police and not to take the law into their own hands.
“The persons involved were killers and the police and the law will treat them as killers. I am urging our community to identify these killers in order for the law to be enforced and these murderers to be brought before court,” Rabie added.
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 May, 23-year-old Khensani Maseko, a student at Rhodes University in Germantown, South Africa was raped by another student.
She reported her assault in July and was scheduled to return to school on August 6 for the commencement of an investigation. She agreed to take time away from school to process the tragic event.
On August 3, she left an enigmatic message on her Instagram page that stated, “No-one deserves to be raped!”
She then took her life.
The alleged assailant was suspended from the university and an official investigation was launched to ascertain the events that unfolded before Maseko’s death.
Maseko’s passing ignited a flame in the fight for sexual violence against women in SA.
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.
South Africans have been outraged over these recent rape cases but the police have warned against vigilantism as some of the accused could be innocent.