The huge courage of rape victim Jessica Foord, left, a South African girl who spoke up publicly against the country's gang-rape epidemic, was rewarded by the Durban High Court on Monday March 16 2009. Judge Viviene Niles-Duner sentenced three of her rapists to life.
The Durban High Court gave life sentences to three of the four young men who were found guilty of raping Miss Foord last year.
Ntuthuko Chili, 18, Mbotho Msomi, 26, and Lindani Maphumulo, 19, were given life sentences for rape and sexual assault and 15 years each for armed robbery with aggravating circumstances. Siyabonga Ntinga, 18, was acquitted of raping her -- but sentenced to 15 years for armed robbery of Ms Foord and her father Tim.
- One of the convicted rapists had testified that he 'had been forced to rape the white lady at gun-point'. see and also see The fifth member of the group, a 17-year-old who pleaded guilty to the crime last year, was sentenced to 17 years in jail. This person testified as a State witness and also could not be named publicly, being a minor.
Since her ordeal, she and her father Tim have spoken up bravely about their ordeal - and she has also become an inspiring motivational speaker in her campaign for the rights of all rape-victims.
On March 2 2008, Foord, then aged 21, and her father were walking their dogs at the Polo Pony Dam in Hillcrest when five young men brandishing knives and guns confronted them. She was gang raped and her father Timothy was forced to watch while he was tied to a tree. See our previous story here
You can't be considered youthful...
Handing down sentence on Monday, Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner said before a packed courtroom that ' the convicted rapists could hardly be considered youthful' because of the nature of the crime they had committed.
"It is true that most of you are young, but what is sad is that many of rape cases are committed by people of your age."
Jackrolling rape gangs
Such "jackrolling' rape gangs' of young black males are so commonplace in this increasingly dysfunctional society that it is barely reported in the news media these days - unless the rape victims themselves speak up and put so much pressure on local authorities that they eventually find and arrest these rape-gangs -- as did the Foords.
Black youths are the dysfunctional lost generation:
Eric Pelser, executive director of the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention in Cape Town says that South Africa's millions of black youths have become totally dysfunctional: the ' lost generation ', growing up without any education and in an atmosphere in which crime and gang-rape are 'normal behaviour'. He blames the 'pervading culture of violence during apartheid', which system of government ended fifteen years ago.
Kids play 'rape me, rape me' games"
South Africa has the highest number of rapes in the world, yet only 7.6% of the rapists are ever tried. on the left are only some of her 5,500 supporters.
Criminal and sexual violence has also become so pervasive in South African schools - not only amongst unemployed youth gangs -- that children as young as 7 play games such as “rape me, rape me,” where students simulate sexual attacks,” according to a chilling report by the SA human rights commission.
The research, which took 18 months to complete, was mostly done in Western Cape province. Statistics were in short supply because most assaults in schools go unreported to the police, the commission said: noting that school authorities tend to want to keep these secret.
Red Cross hospital specialises in repairing raped infants:
And while the SA Police Service 's official crime statistics claim that reports of child-rapes have 'shown a decline', the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town instead show a rapid rise of cases they have to treat. This hospital staff specialises in repairing the often horrendous genital damage done to raped infants in South Africa.
Lesbian students raped 'correctively' by youth gangs
And all these reports say that physical attacks at schools in South Africa are 'alarmingly commonplace", including a phenomenon known as “corrective rape” where boys assault lesbian students to try to turn them into heterosexuals.
Only one in 9 rapes reported to police
South Africa is a nation of 47-million people. In 1992 the number of reported rapes and assaults was listed at 42,429. By 2005, the number was up to 55,114.
- The 'official' police records claim that there since has been a 'dramatic drop' in the number of reported rapes - however this statistic is contested by the SA Medical Research Council's hospital records. The SAPS statistics for 2008 were 6,763 indecent assaults, and 36,190 rapes.
While reported rapes and sexual assaults are one indicator of levels of violence, a 2002 report by the Medical Research Council also notes that only one in nine women ever reports her assault to police. And add to that the fact that only 7.6 percent of trial cases ever end up tried and with a defendant found guilty -- and the picture becomes clearer, and we begin to understand a seemingly incomprehensible news story - this is a culture where rape, and gang-rape in particular, is 'normal behaviour.'
Vote it up!
That's why these convictions in the Foord rape case are a noteworthy news event - and this also came about because the Foord family has stood up so courageously in public, and decided to publicize their ordeal. They founded Powar, the Project by Women against Rape: see
Specialised rape-trauma units
They want to raise funds to found a "Powar" hospital, where victims can be treated kindly, and cared for by specialised rape-trauma units.
On Monday, Msomi's and Maphumulo's attempts to appeal against their sentences were turned down by the judge -- who argued it was impossible that another court would come up with different sentences.
- Chili, who testified that he "had only held Foord's father at gunpoint while the other accused raped her," was the only one given leave to appeal his sentence.
The court room was packed with Foord's relatives and her great many friends -- who cheered when the judge handed down the sentences. see