News / South Africa / Courts

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
18 Jan 2019
6:20 am

After more than a decade, rape victim gets justice

Ilse de Lange

She had to receive a major neck surgery and still suffered from the trauma, stigma, humiliation and financial loss.

File image

A former Klerksdorp library assistant who was viciously assaulted and raped after her repeated requests for protection fell on deaf ears is still battling to get full compensation for her ordeal more than a decade later – but got a step closer with a judgment in her favour this week.

The librarian, who was rendered unemployable as a result of the July 2008 incident at the municipal library, initially sued the Matlosana municipality, but later withdrew her claim and then proceeded with a claim against the Compensation commissioner.

She had repeatedly reported burglaries, being threatened with violence, mugged, assaulted and robbed and also an attempt to rape her in 2002, but all of her requests for additional security measures were ignored.

The High Court in Pretoria initially ordered her to pay the municipality’s legal fees, but a full bench of the court in 2016 set aside the ruling and ordered the municipality to pay all of her costs.

The judges at the time described the municipality’s initial denial that she was raped and implication that she was partially to blame for her rape as offensive and deeply insensitive, and said the city had failed dismally to provide a safe and healthy environment for its employees.

The Compensation commissioner initially denied that the incident was due to anyone’s negligence and insisted her rape was not foreseeable and was an unfortunate incident caused by the criminal actions of a member of the public.

The commissioner in 2011 approved a monthly pension of R2 720, with yearly increases.

The librarian applied for additional compensation in 2014 because she could not afford all her medical costs, but it was only approved in 2017.

The commission thereafter simply ignored the judgment.

She battled for almost nine months to get a copy of the judgment and when the increased payment was still not forthcoming, this week obtained a high court order compelling the labour director-general to comply with the award of additional compensation.

She was given leave to apply for an order to hold the department of labour director-general in contempt of court if the order was not complied with within the next two months.

She said in court papers she not only suffered the rape, but had to relive it repeatedly during the criminal trial, the civil trial and the compensation hearing.

She had to receive a major neck surgery and still suffered from the trauma, stigma, humiliation and financial loss.

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