The cover provided by early darkness during the winter season is making criminals bolder, resulting in increases in rape cases during the months of May and June.
This is according to Lifeline director Sinikiwe Biyela, who added that the poor justice system is also a contributing factor.
“It gets dark early during winter. People wait in long queues in taxi ranks for their taxis and when they get home it’s dark and they walk long distances to their homes, and this puts them at high risk,” said Biyela.
“Several women have enquired about defence courses. They have indicated a great need to protect themselves as they fear for their lives.”
Biyela also reminded people about the importance of speaking out.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Sifiso Gwala confirmed that a number of people have been coming forward to report these cases.
However, SAPS attributes the increase in the number of cases being reported to the awareness programmes held by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences members at the Royal Agricultural Show this May, as well as in city schools, encouraging victims to speak out.
A rape survivor recalled the trauma of being raped by a trusted man from her neighbourhood when she was eight years old.
“I used to respect him as an elderly person. He used to build houses [bricklayer] and was well-known around my area. He was building a house for my extended family and used to call me and give me chips,” said the 31-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect her identity.
The woman added that after the rape, she was given chips and told not to tell anyone. She said she was raped twice that year, in the same house, by the same person.
“The second time, he raped me until I bled. He took a cloth and wiped the blood and told me not to tell anyone. I was raped by him three times when I was young. As the years went by, he kept on complimenting me on how grown up and beautiful I have become.”
The woman said last year the suspect ambushed her while she was on her way home, took her to the nearest forest and raped her again.
Reporting the rape led to the perpetrator being charged and arrested.
Sergeant Gwala stressed the importance of people speaking up to break the cycle of abuse.
“Even elderly people have been coming forward. When it comes to conviction, these cases don’t speed up as they are not the same as the ones reported within the 72-hour period.
“We encourage victims to report such cases. Even if this happened a long time ago, report it. We are grateful to see people speaking out as we don’t want these cases to be hidden under the carpet,” said Gwala.
He added that the increase in reported rape cases sends a message that people are tired of the cycle of rape.
“If perpetrators are not prosecuted for their actions they will continue, hence they are destroying the victim’s future, especially children. Reporting will help to put a stop to this.”