Justice system fails Sibongile

AGONY: Sibongile Dube, one of the victims of rape in Johannesburg. 10/03/09. PIc. Antonio Muchave. © Sowetan.
AGONY: Sibongile Dube, one of the victims of rape in Johannesburg. 10/03/09. PIc. Antonio Muchave. © Sowetan.

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Sibongile Dube* would love to be home with her family but she cannot. The 18-year-old endured a traumatic experience at the hands of the people who were supposed to be her guardians.

Sibongile, of Vrededorp in Johannesburg, was allegedly raped by her cousin who lived with her in a family home. His friend also raped her over a long period. When she finally had the courage to open a case against the people who had violated her, the justice system slammed the door in her face.

The teenager was allegedly denied justice because she had reported the matter "too late" and was inconsistent with the dates when the rape incidents happened.

Sibongile, who is mentally disabled, told Sowetan yesterday that she missed being home with her family.

She lives with community leader Peter Jacobs and his family, who took her in after she was found by her neighbour living in a park in June last year.

"When we found her she was dirty and you could see she had not bathed and eaten in days," said Jacobs.

"When we asked her why she was sleeping in the park - initially she did not want to say until she learnt to trust my wife. She told us that she had been raped by her cousin and his friend whom we knew.

"We then took her to Brixton police station and reported the matter. A case of rape was opened but the perpetrators were never arrested. After some time we went back to the investigating officer who told us that the case had been closed because the incidents were reported late and the victim could not remember the exact dates when she was raped."

Brixton police confirmed last year that the case was opened and later closed because there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Sibongile and her two sisters were orphaned seven years ago.

Jacobs said he had contacted one of Sibongile's sisters who lives in Pretoria but she was not willing to take her because she was living with her boyfriend.

"We were not surprised by her refusal to take her younger sister because she was living with her when she was raped by their cousin and his friend," he said. "Sibongile told us that she told her about the rapes and her sister accused her of lying. She apparently beat her up and that is when she decided to run away."

When Sowetan went to the family home yesterday, there was no one in the house. But Jacobs confirmed that the cousin who allegedly raped Sibongile still lives there.

* Not her real name.