big row over miniskirt

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Johannesburg Metro police cannot explain why CCTV cameras did not pick up Sunday's incident in which taxi drivers stripped and sexually assaulted a young woman at the Noord Street taxi rank.

Spokesman Wayne Minnaar confirmed yesterday that cameras traded on the area were working, but did not understand why the action was not captured. He said there was also a satellite police station near where the incident happened.

This could mean that Nwabisa Ngcukana, 25, may have been let down by the police officers monitoring the cameras on Sunday. Three other young women were stripped and assaulted on Saturday for wearing miniskirts.

The assault on Ngcukana has sparked outrage among human rights organisations, who have called for the perpetrators to be brought to book.

Lisa Vetten of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation said the only thing that could end "this barbaric practice" would be for Gauteng MEC for community safety Firoz Cachalia to intervene.

"The MEC must go to that rank and talk to those taxi drivers. They need to know that what they are doing is against our Constitution and the law. Women have rights in this country. If they choose to wear a miniskirt it is their choice and men should respect that," said Vetten.

The Human Rights Commission also condemned the attack and vowed "to see that justice is done".

Commission spokesman Vincent Moaga said his organisation condemned the behaviour of the taxi drivers in the strongest possible terms.

"The commission, together with the Commission on Gender Equality and other relevant stakeholders, will use its power to ensure that there is justice for the victim and that the perpetrators of this despicable behaviour face the full might of the law.

"We will hold a meeting with taxi associations and other relevant stakeholders to deal with this type of conduct," assured Moaga.

Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, which helps women who are victims of gender-based violence, said it would help Ngcukana and the other women lay criminal charges against the taxi drivers.

Advocate Liesl Gerntholtz said it was disturbing that there were men who still thought that women should not wear certain clothes.

"What happened to those women is not only a case of sexual assault but a violation of their rights. We would be happy to help the victims lay criminal charges," she said.

Sicelo Mabaso, chairman of the Top Six Taxi Association, said an investigation was under way to find the culprits.

He assured the public that drastic action would be taken against the perpetrators.

It was not clear whether police were aware of similar incidents reported at the taxi rank before.

Police Captain Cheryl Engelbrecht said: "I can not tell if there have been similar incidents reported or not.

"What we can do now is educate women to report such violations rather than shifting the blame on the police.

"Victims of crime should be encouraged to report," she said.

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