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South Africa’s rape crisis

South Africa is reputedly the country with the highest incidence of rape in the world. While a white judge, Mabel Jansen, was suspended for a private conversation during which she complained of black men raping even children, other reports corroborate her statement.

Published: November 26, 2016, 2:07 pm

    South Africa’s black Justice Minister Michael Masutha placed a white judge on special leave in May this year, after private comments about black rape in South Africa she had made to journalist Gillian Schutte. The judge’s comments in  private Facebook messages were made public by Schutte.

    Schutte, who is married to a black militant, is well-known in South Africa for her anti-white views, although she is herself white. Earlier this year, Schutte posted excerpts of a year-old exchange she had had with Judge Mabel Jansen on the social network in order to embarrass the judge whom Schutte thought held “racist” views.

    Jansen wrote of black people:

    “In their [black] culture a woman is there to pleasure them. Period. It is seen as an absolute right and a woman’s consent is not required.

    “I still have to meet a black girl who was not raped at about 12. I am dead serious.”

    Jansen said she was referring specifically to rape cases that she had presided over in the High Court, but added that her comments were made in private. Jansen handles high-profile cases and has adopted and raised children of colour — something that only very liberal whites in South Africa would do. She has intimate knowlegde of the country’s judicial system and spoke from experience.

    Schutte pretended to be sympathetic in contacting the judge as Jansen had just lost her husband in a car accident. However, she used the intimate, confidential conversation on Facebook inbox messages to smear the judge and cause a scandal, with the mainstream media happily playing along.

    Soon after Schutte’s accusations, gunmen broke into the suspended High Court judge’s Pretoria home, searching her study, possibly for copies of the incriminating court files on black rape, says a witness. News24 reported that the two black men forced open an exterior door, held Jansen’s long-serving black domestic worker at gunpoint, and demanded the files.

    Jansen was in Europe at the time and was informed of the robbery by her staff. “Her study was completely trashed and the men took time to remove books and papers from shelves while looking for files,” a security guard said.

    But the judge’s comments were rather mild compared to what Wikipedia writes about the rate of sexual violence in South Africa — which is among the highest in the world. While women’s groups in South Africa estimate that a woman is raped every 26 seconds, the South African Police reports that a woman is raped every 36 seconds.

    According to the report by the United Nations Office on Crimes and Drugs for the period 1998–2000, South Africa was ranked first for rapes per capita. In 1998, one in three of the 4,000 women questioned in Johannesburg had been raped, according to Community Information, Empowerment and Transparency (CIET) Africa.

    A study into rape and HIV, by the country’s Medical Research Council (MRC), found that one in four black men in South Africa admitted to rape and many confessed to attacking more than one victim, exposing the country’s endemic culture of sexual violence.

    Three out of four black rapists first attacked a female while still in their teens, the study found. One in 20 black men said they had raped a woman or girl in the last year.

    The study was conducted in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, using a Statistics South Africa model of one male interviewee in each of 1,738 households “across all racial groupings”, and from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds in both rural and urban areas. But the respondents were almost all black because both provinces have only tiny white populations. Most of South Africa’s whites are concentrated in only two provinces: Gauteng and the Western Cape.

    Half the men in the study were under 25 years old and 70 percent were under 30 years old.

    South Africa is in fact notorious for having one of the highest levels of rape in the world. Only a fraction of these crimes are reported, and only a fraction of those lead to a conviction.

    Few academic studies are undertaken on the rape phenomenon, according to a professor from the University of Cape Town who wished to remain anonymous. So the suspension of the judge came after she had broken a taboo in private, when she had claimed that “rape [was] part of black culture”. Jansen and her family now live in constant danger after Schutte reported her remarks. In a tweet, Jansen actually asked Schutte if she was proud of endangering her and her children’s lives for 15 minutes of fame.

    Jansen added that “activist Gillian Schutte knew how dry racial tinder is yet lit the match intentionally”. But Schutte simply laughed off the death threats to the judge and her family, saying it appears as if Jansen “doesn’t have any remorse”.

    And while the judge who dared to mention the scourge of black rape, now fears for her life, rape continues on a daily basis. Perhaps worse, is that South Africa’s black government couldn’t care less.

    The most horrific black rape stories, the staple fodder of newsprint daily, go almost unnoticed and never reach the front pages. Black South Africans, is seems, could not care less about rape, while the ANC government appears to be more concerned about not letting “bad publicity” get in the way of their “freedom fighter” image.

    In a rare investigation, the London Guardian once conducted a brief series of interviews with lesbian black women who had suffered “corrective rape” and even murder by black men. Some of the men in the video (underneath) are quite open about the need for corrective rape, saying: “They must rape them, they must rock them.”

    Whereas the slightest deviation from politically correct speech etiquette by whites is met with quick denunciations and statements by government ministers, even gruesome rape incidents do not elicit any reponse from government nor the ubiquitous liberal media commentators. The story this week of a black Soshanguve mother bludgeoning a toddler rape victim to death with a rock to silence her, drew no outcries whatsoever. The story reported by the Independent Newspapers site IOL on the crime backpages, went by completely unnoticed.

    This horrific tale, one of thousands, unfolded on Wednesday in an empty Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, the same court where Judge Mabel Jansen used to adjudicate cases before her suspension. The 32-year-old mother pleaded guilty to murder and an attempt to obstruct justice. The woman cannot be identified in order to protect her son, now 11. This is typically the type of case which Mabel Jansen used to hear.

    After discovering that her 9-year-old son had raped her friend’s 3-year-old daughter whom she was looking after, the black mother killed the black toddler and dumped her body in the backyard of her home next to a banana tree.

    The black mother, her son and her daughter then went to sleep that night with the body outside their bedroom window, while the family of Asanda Mbuku searched frantically for her child throughout the night.

    Knowing her son had raped the child, the mother sent him to school the next day as usual. The gruesome discovery of the body was only made after the son returned from school and called his aunt into the house. He then pointed through the window to the backyard towards where the body was lying.

    The black judge Tshifhiwa Maumela said the fact that the woman pleaded guilty, coupled with her having no-one else to care for her children, warranted a more lenient sentence.

    The accused was asked to look after Asanda, the victim.  After she had fed her own children and the little girl, she left them in the care of her son in front of the TV while she had a nap.

    “Around 8pm I was woken up by my son who said Asanda was not waking up. I went to check and I found her lying on her back at the door. She was half-naked. I realised she was not moving and sprinkled her with water to wake her, but she did not.”

    The mother said she realised the child had been raped by her son. She feared that if the child woke up and told people what had happened to her, her son would go to jail.

    She told the court: “I took a rock and I hit her on her head to kill her. I hid her at the back of my garden. I did all this because my son had raped her and I did not want anyone to find out. I burnt her jacket and shoes.

    “When her parents came to the house to fetch her, I said I did not know where she was,” the woman said.

    Judge Maumela said it was a pity that the mother did not realise that her son would not have been arrested. He said that in terms of the law, a child under 10 could not be held criminally responsible for their deeds.

    Asanda’s aunt, Gloria Mbuku, said the child’s murder came as a terrible shock. “The family went through a lot. The police at first suspected her parents and arrested them before her body was found.”

    South Africa has the highest rates of rape in the world, according to Interpol, as well as the highest incidence of HIV. The country’s National Prosecuting Authority tells us that 50 percent of all criminal cases before South African courts are for rape. That is, except in Durban and Mdantsane, where it is 60 percent, according to researcher Charlene Smith.

    Although the Law Reform Commission estimates that there are 1,7 million rapes a year, on average only 54 000 rape survivors lay charges each year. Many believe it is because 75 percent of rape in South Africa is gang rape.

    A Medical Research Council study into conditions for rape survivors in Gauteng in 2002 found that the treatment of survivors by police and medical and court personnel was deplorable. Two white researchers were so traumatised by what they had witnessed that they had to go for counselling.

    The Medical Research Council reported that 26 percent of doctors and nurses, all black, who treated rape cases didn’t think of them as a serious medical problem. Yet rape carries the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, a range of other infections, pregnancy and long-term psychological scarring.

    A report published in 2009 by the white trade union Solidarity said that one child is raped in South Africa every three minutes, with 88% of rapes going unreported. It found that levels of child abuse in South Africa were increasing rapidly.

    Before his election as South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma stood trial for the rape of a family friend. His supporters demonstrated at the court house, verbally attacked his accuser and sang “burn the bitch, burn the bitch”, the London Guardian reported. Zuma was eventually acquitted.

    A coordinator at People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), a gender activist NGO, told IRIN that the “law is on the side of perpetrators [of rape], rather than of the side of [rape] survivors”.

    Like other criminal cases, rape cases are plagued by delays, lost dockets, misplaced rape kits, and overworked prosecutors; complainants are further burdened by the “patriarchal society”, which place the burden of proof on the complainant, she said. But she did not comment on the prevalence of rape, particularly in black society.

    South Africa’s high crime rate is a burden to public prosecutors, who might have only a few minutes to consult with their clients before a case, whereas defence lawyers could spend many days with clients preparing their case.

    Police do not care to tell rape survivors that they could make statements when they were not so traumatized, or amend their statements the following day, and there are often years of delay before a rape case comes to trial, all of which is detrimental to the success of rape prosecutions.

    The cabinet removed Section 21 from a new Sexual Offences Bill, which would have given post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP, which is medication to prevent HIV) as well as medication to prevent STIs and pregnancy to rape survivors. They left in Section 22, which guarantees medical care for the rapist and undertakes to rehabilitate any alcohol or narcotics addictions he might have.

    In other words, the government will help to remove self-inflicted addictions from the criminal, but won’t have legislation compelling hospitals to provide women and children with the medication that prevents them from getting criminal-inflicted HIV.

    Professor Ames Dhai of the University of Natal points out that there are twice as many rape survivors at risk of seroconversion to HIV than there are babies born in South Africa to HIV-positive mothers, yet there are few calls for PEP for rape survivors. Dhai believes the stigma against those raped in black society prevent them from speaking out.

    In South Africa two-and-a-half times more women are infected with HIV than men because many women experience forced sex, says UNAIDS while UNICEF reports that six times more girls than boys in Africa are infected with HIV.

    In Meadowlands, Soweto, a black area, police say 90 percent of rape in that community is against children younger than 12.

    A nine-year study by Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital, published in the SA Medical Journal in December 2002, found that the average age of children raped was three. Research has shown that 40 percent of those raped in South Africa are at risk of becoming HIV-positive.

    Yet to the media and social justice warriors like Gillian Schutte, sniffing out “racism” and removing Judge Mabel Jansen from the bench is more important than addressing the scourge of rape which is making a mockery of South Africa’s pretensions at being a liberal democracy.

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