Chaos erupted in the streets of Tafelsig after an eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 52-year-old man on Friday December 1.
The man appeared in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court on Monday December 4, facing a charge of rape. The case was postponed until January 17.
Back at the scene on Friday, more than 500 furious people expressed their anger by throwing stones, attacking the police and burning tyres.
Mitchell’s Plain police spokesperson Captain Ian Williams said the suspect hid inside the premises of an organisation in Dassenberg Street to escape the community who wanted to see street justice done.
Captain Williams said due to the size and hostility of the crowd, police on the scene had to call for reinforcements.
“With the assistance of the Public Order Policing, using a nyala, the police were able to successfully extract the suspect. The mother of the victim also had to be escorted to safety by police.
“Stones were thrown at police who had to use rubber bullets and detonate eight stun grenades to disperse the crowd. No injuries had been reported. No damages were reported at the time of the incident,” Captain Williams said.
Mareldea Sonday, operations manager at the Mitchell’s Plain Network Opposing Abuse, said the incident was unacceptable, sad and traumatising. She said an incident of this nature left lifelong scars and whether you were young or old, the damage was physical, emotional and psychological.
“Rape doesn’t only affect the person but the whole family and the community at large. We must change gears in this volatile climate. Our minds will have to be criminalised – we have to think like the criminals. Every man is seen as a potential rapist; we must trust nobody and don’t take anything for granted,” she added.
Mitchell’s Plain Crisis Forum (MPCF) acting chairperson Henry Arends said the organisation strongly condemned the rape of the girl. “We as a organisation are deeply saddened and outraged at this inhuman act. MPCF will give full support in every way possible to the family. However, we do not condone community violence. This is what we have been fighting against and hope that government and our judiciary system changes it laws. We will continue to fight for the laws to be changed and support families during and through their ordeal.
“MPCF is willing to work with any law enforcement agency. We also encourage the communities to work with the police to allow them to do their work,” he said.
Ms Sonday said men raped young girls they knew because of male dominance, power and control they had over the vulnerable child.
“There are various reasons, and they do it because it’s easy, they see it as an ‘opportunity’ they had all the time to ‘groom’ them and the child won’t suspect the deviousness. It’s a safe environment – nobody will suspect them. We teach children not to trust the stranger; we also teach them to respect older peopl,” she said.
The networks advice to parents is for them to stop protecting rapists.
“The truth must prevail – believe your child and stop saying the child is ‘old-fashioned’.
“Single mothers must think about the child’s well-being first when she enters a relationship. Does the person really fancy her or is his eye on her child?
“Take care of your child’s emotional needs more than the material – build trust with your child. Parents need to take responsibility and check what values and responsibility they are consistent in expressing or projecting to their children, “ she said.
Ms Sonday pleaded with men to stop abusing, manipulating and controlling those that they were supposed to love, cherish and protect. She said it was high time men stopped being quiet and rose up.
“They need to identify and acknowledge their weaknesses and vulnerabilities and seek assistance as there is help. Last but not least, accept responsibility and the consequences of their actions – the sentence must fit the crime – no leniency,” she said.
The network said there were many NGOs such as their organisation, Mosaic, Crisis Line, the Parent Centre and YMCA available to assist them.