South Africa: Video gang-rape trial set to begin | Africa | DW | 25.04.2012
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South Africa: Video gang-rape trial set to begin

Three men accused of raping a 17-year-old girl will go on trial, the National Prosecution Authority said on Wednesday. The case sent shock waves around the world after a video surfaced on the Internet.

The low-quality cell phone video shows the girl screaming and begging her attackers to stop as they take turns raping her, according to local media. It ends with one offering her two rand (26 US cents) for her silence and she is heard crying.

According to media reports, the teenage girl was repeatedly raped by the men. She is said to be mentally handicapped. The alleged perpetrators are between 14-20 years old. If convicted, they face a possible life sentence.

Three out of four men to appear in court

On Wednesday, South Africa's National Prosecution Authority said that three of the four men suspected of carrying out the rape will appear in court. The fourth suspect is only 13 years old. Prosecutors are yet to establish his criminal capacity.

Women waving posters outside a court building (picture by dpa)

Women have frequently rallied against the high number of rapes in South Africa

In addition to facing one count of rape one of them has been charged with filming and distributing child-pornography. While this case is extreme it has also highlighted the issue of rape in South Africa.

The 17-year-old girl, who went missing a few weeks ago, was found by police last Wednesday in the home of a 37-year-old man, who has since also been arrested. Police have not revealed any identities because minors are involved.

The prosecution says the victim, will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Women groups say that a woman is raped every 23 seconds in South Africa. The Jessica Ford Foundation Rape Center in Durban South Africa says Women in South Africa have more chances of being raped than learning to read. The center was established a few years ago by Jessica Ford - a young woman who was raped in 2008 by five men who forced their way into her home.

More than 56,000 cases

The Foundation provides counseling and trauma services to victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Last year alone 56,000 rapes were reported to police but activists say most go unreported.

Successive governments have pledged to cut crime, putting more police on the streets and launching high profile campaigns that have done little to reduce the violence.

Placards voicing the concerns of rape victims hand outside the high court in Johannesburg (photo by dpa)

Only one in 25 rapes is reported to police

The South African cabinet condemned the latest attack, calling on "the law enforcement to ensure that the full might of the law is implemented".

But a 2009 study by the government's Medical Research Council revealed that only one in 25 rapes was reported to police. The same survey found more than one quarter of South African men admitted to raping a woman or girl.

Massive unemployment, poverty, easy access to weapons and the lingering effects of the racial oppression of apartheid have been cited as reasons for the high levels of violent crime in South Africa.

Author: Isaac Mugabi (AFP, Reuters)

Editor: Daniel Pelz