The One in Nine Campaign has embarked on a plan of action around a case of gang rape involving a 27-year-old woman who was raped on the 2 October 2005 by eight men. The complainant, Buyisiwe*, laid a charge and underwent medico-legal examination. On the 12 June 2006 the matter was struck off the roll in the Tembisa Regional Court due to evidence being ‘missing’ and consequently the accused persons were released. The prosecution and complainant have informed us that the missing documents include the complainant’s statement and the transcripts of the bail application hearing.
The accused persons have been free for 30 days today while the complainant has been forced to go into a safe house for abused women.
Court officials have indicated that the documents were lost by the company responsible for transcribing court records and that the contract with this company has since been terminated. A new company has been contracted to undertake court transcriptions – including those required for Buyisiwe’s case to be prosecuted.
The One in Nine Campaign has been informed that it will take between 1 and 3 months before the matter can be reinstated on the court roll.
The explanation received from state officials have not adequately addressed how the documents were lost or who is responsible for their loss.
We believe that Buyisiwe’s rights have been violated as a consequence of the documents being lost and the matter being struck off the roll. We further suspect that the loss of these documents is as a result of the incompetence, negligence and/or corruption by both the private company contracted by the Department of Justice and the state officials who are responsible for overseeing this case. We note that due to this incompetence, negligence and/or corruption, Buyisiwe’s alleged rapists are now free and that this has placed her life at further risk of violence. We note that the South African goverment has made many commitments to ensuring that once women have experienced violence, they will receive the full protection of the law and access to justice. These promises have not been fulfilled in Buyisiwe’s case.
The One in Nine Campaign has therefore embarked on a plan of action which we hope will ensure that Buyisiwe’s case will be placed back on the court roll before National Women’s Day on the 9 August 2006. Further demands include that an enquiry be launched into the missing documents, and where evidence of incompetence, negligence and/or corruption is found, the appropriate parties be punished in accordance with the law.
The One in Nine Campaign notes that this case is not unique and that rape cases are plagued by lost documents and allegations of incompetence, negligence and corruption. Research conducted by CIET Africa in 2003 into reasons for documents going missing found that 20% of dockets are stolen, lost or somehow destroyed and in 17% of cases the prosecutor and/or other court officials are bribed to destroy the case. In 21% of cases the perpetrators bribed police to destroy the case. We therefore demand that court systems, policies and practices be reviewed by relevant state and civil society agencies to ensure that cases of incompetence, negligence and corruption in rape cases be eradicated.
One in Nine Campaign holds a National Day of Solidarity
On the 24 July a case of intimidation will be heard in the Tembisa Magistrate Court. The intimidation case is linked to the rape case as the accused is a friend of the rapists.
The One in Nine Campaign will be staging protests in solidarity with Buyisiwe on Monday 24 July 2006 at Magistrate’s Courts in Tembisa, Durban and Grahamstown. Between fifty to one hundred people are expected to gather outside the Magistrate’s Courts in these cities.
The purpose of the Day of Solidarity is to provide an opportunity for a public show of solidarity with Buyisiwe and all women who are raped and speak out about this and to demand that Buyisiwe’s case be put back on the court roll.
For more information on the Day of Solidarity contact:
National / Johannesburg
083 628 6996
Durban / KZN
083 278 7033
Grahamstown / Eastern Cape
082 430 5707
For more information on Buyisiwe’s case contact:
083 628 6996
Press release written for the One in Nine Campaign by Carrie Shelver.
Visit www.oneinnine.org.za for additional information.