GRAAFF-REINET NEWS & VIDEO - "Rape is as good as murder. They have killed these women's souls."
This according to Graaff-Reinet local Lucricia Jackson, who led a peaceful protest outside the Graaff-Reinet Magistrate's Court on Monday 12 October, where two men accused of raping three women were due to appear in court.
The suspects, aged 19 and 24, are accused of attacking and robbing a group of six women, who were on their way home from Wolwas, on 7 August. Three of the women, aged 25, 30 and 31 were then allegedly raped by the suspects.
"Enough is enough, we are tired of [these attacks] on our women," said Jackson. "Women's lives are being ruined and we can't accept that." A petition was handed over by the protestors to Court Manager René Viljoen. The petition demands that the suspects be given six life sentence each, "one for each of the lives that they have ruined," the petition read. The petition also urged victims of abuse to take a stand.
"We accept [the petition], and it will become part of the docket," Viljoen told the crowd, who she also thanked for their peaceful behaviour.
"Men must know that they can't just take what they want, and all bodies must be respected." She also told the community members to stand together against violence and to listen to each other to see how they can help in their communities.
Watch a video below:
Local pastoral councillor Marina van Niekerk also addressed the crowd and told the victims that they do not have to face their challenges alone. "Violence happens amongst us, no matter who we are," she said. "God is in control, and we will get through this together." Van Niekerk offered her services to the women, free of charge.
Jackson said that the entire community stands behind the victims, and hopes that justice will be served.
"You can see the pain in their eyes," she said. "Their attacks have not just affected them, but their families and communities. We hope the court will take our demands seriously. The community is angry."
According to Capt Bradley Rawlinson, spokesperson of the Graaff-Reinet SAPS, the court date has been postponed to 26 November, pending further investigation.
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