Failed by the system: One woman's heartbreaking story of rape - and secondary victimisation

Women’s Day is a celebration of the bold step that was taken by the women of 1956, who protested against the introduction of the Apartheid pass law for black women. Today, 26 years into democracy South Africa faces a scourge of Violence Against Women and Femicide.

We would like to commend and celebrate the bravery of the women who managed to ask for help and left the abusive environments they found themselves in.

Andisiwe Cawe* is no different to these women.

Andisiwe was raped while jogging in Mdantsane sports field. A male passer-by (we will call him XX) came to her rescue but later disappeared on her at the police station when it was time to make a statement. A person who was meant to help her turned out to be another nightmare, he harassed her with calls every night to tell her to drop the case. XX was recognised by police and he allegedly has two pending rape cases against him.

A nurse at the Thuthuzela Care Centre organised for Andisiwe to stay at the Masimanyane Shelter because she feared for her life.

Andisiwe commends the support she got from social workers at the shelter because she faced what she describes as secondary victimisation and intimidation from SAPS officials.

“If it was not for the social workers from the shelter and the support from my family I would have long given up.”

The police straight up told her that 90% of the cases when the victim does not know the perpetrator do not get solved. She later found out that her statement was tampered with. She did the identikit of the perpetrator at Cambridge Police Station but later found out that the police said that she does not remember the face of the person who raped her. Which was not true, the identikit was still there.

She managed to find the perpetrator on her own, reported and told the police that are handling her case but to this day nothing has been done. She was then informed that her case has been put aside because of discrepancies that she believes were caused by the officers.

“I now understand why people who were raped refuse to open cases or decide to drop them. You face secondary victimisation from the police, from the questions they ask you, to how they handle the case altogether. GBV is real and should be taken seriously, I have first-hand experience. Having a great support system is important, I can’t stress that enough”.

*Not her real name

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