Cape Town - A rape survivor group on Friday slammed Western Cape Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros's son and his two co-accused for laughing repeatedly while their alleged rape victim testified at the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
Rape Crisis Operations Manager Nazma Hendricks said the incident highlighted how "rape survivors continue to be victimised by the system, especially this secondary victimisation which is within the power of the magistrate to control". Petros's son Lwazi Mzito, 19, Jabu Duluxolo, 27, of Langa and Lubabalo Fongoqa, 19, of Khayelitsha have denied that they were part of a gang rape involving six men on April 5 and 6 last year, Die Burger reported.
The woman, who was 17 at the time of the rape, testified she was "abducted under false pretences" by Mzito and held captive for an entire night in two township shacks, where she was raped by six different men including Mzito. Police are still searching for the three other suspects.
Despite the State's request that the woman testify in camera, she was heard in an open court at the insistence of Mzito's legal counsel Sakkie Maartens.
Facing her 'rapists' She was forced to face her alleged rapists and endure loud laughter from the men and their friends in the public gallery.
It wasn't reported whether Magistrate Matshikwe ordered silence in the court during her testimony. Rozanne Els of Die Burger reported that the woman was "shaking visibly" during her testimony, and was stopped frequently by loud gales of laughter from the public gallery and the three accused men.
Hendricks told News24 that the woman has no family support. "She's been connected to our rape crisis support and that's carried her through," she said. Hendricks said according to the court supporter assigned to the woman, she was "brave and courageous".
She persevered in testifying how she and a group of girlfriends were approached on a Khayelitsha street on April 5 last year by Fongoqa, who called himself "Fifty Cents" and insisted that she had to go home with him. Duluxolo then stepped in and offered to "hide her in his house to prevent her from being gang-raped".
When they arrived at his shack, however, he raped her and afterwards spat on her and told her he was "HIV-positive", she testified. He then woke up a friend who was asleep in the shack and ordered him to rape her too.
Afterwards Fongoqa arrived and took her to a larger shack, where she was raped by another three men - in front of their girlfriends. 'I wept' "I didn't scream, but I wept,' she said. The case continues in April, when the accused will be cross-examined. Rape Crisis said the woman's court ordeal was detrimental given the very low rate of rape convictions.
"This can be very discouraging to other rape survivors who do not want to come forward and report rape, or to testify because they fear being humiliated within the legal system," said Hendricks Mzito, who is Petros's son from a former marriage, is also facing several charges of armed robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition in a separate incident.