Cape Town – Just two months after a 32-year-old mother was gang-raped and attacked, police closed her case without her knowledge, failing to carry out DNA or interviewing any key witnesses.
Medical tests were only done three weeks after the Mitchells Plain woman was sexually assaulted and attacked.
Nearly two months after the incident, the victim received a text message stating her case had been closed, despite her providing police with the names and addresses of potential witnesses.
This comes just weeks after DA Western Cape spokesperson on community safety Reagen Allen revealed that as of March this year, DNA testing had a backlog which had increased by 51% to 208 000 samples since October last year.
Allen said the Western Cape’s new testing backlog could be as large as 60 400 samples to date, and that this delayed justice and posed a threat to the criminal justice system.
Saps warrant officer Joseph Witbooi confirmed the case had been closed due to the victim not being able to identify the suspects.
“This office confirms that a case of rape was registered in which a female from Mitchells Plain was the victim.
“Please be advised that the victim is unable to identify or provide an ID kit of the suspects who allegedly raped her in Netreg,” he said.
The woman, who cannot be identified as she is a victim of a sexual crime, said she had been left traumatised after the incident and was now disappointed in the police.
She said the nightmare began on the Easter weekend while visiting her boyfriend and brother in Netreg.
While taking a short-cut underneath a bridge, the woman was allegedly attacked by a group of three men who took her rings and jewellery.
She said she had provided police with the names and addresses of witnesses.
“We told police there is a woman who is a witness who saw these suspects on the train line.
“People are aware of how they look. My family can tell how they bragged after stealing my money and rings. They bragged about what they did to me, and that there is no case ,and that we are afraid, and that they are free.
“We provided police with the names and addresses of the witnesses who would identify them, but the detective did not go as far as their homes,” she said.
The traumatised woman said she had managed to escape the clutches of the trio when they stepped away from her for a few minutes to discuss their next move.
She believes if she didn’t run, she would have been dead today.
“I was walking under the bridge, I saw these men coming from behind me.
“They began to pull me and they dragged me to the train line.
“At first I thought it was a joke, I screamed for them to leave me alone. They started smacking me around and fighting with me.
“Then they did what they wanted to me. I just lay there frozen afterwards and I saw them talking to one another out the corner of my eye, as they stood on a corner.
“I told myself, now I need to get up and run,” she said.
She added she was left disappointed by police closing the case without utilising DNA or taking statements from witnesses.
“In my statement, I said there were four but I am hearing now they were only three, according to witnesses.
“I am dissatisfied that they are free and that nothing has happened, because I could have been dead today. The police did not do their work.
“I just came home from work one night when my mother informed me that the case is closed.
“It upset me because the detective didn’t even personally take my statement, and took me for a medical examination only three weeks after the incident, and I received no counselling.
“The case was opened at Mitchells Plain police station and transferred to Bishop Lavis after I was given the run around,” she said.
Advocate Bernadine Bachar, Director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, said more work was needed to improve systematically how cases are dealt with.
“Much work still needs to be done within the criminal justice system to ensure that survivors of rape are offered efficient, speedy, sensitive and survivor-centric services by our courts and the South African Police Services.
“The fact that survivors are still facing challenges in receiving critical information about their cases and interminable delays is unconscionable and an indictment on the entire system. We need to do better,” Bachar said.