Woman in hiding after lover who 'stabbed' her is set free

Sonto Radebe lost vision in one eye after she was allegedly stabbed by her ex-boyfriend. She now fears for her life because the man, who is on parole for murder, was released from custody.
Sonto Radebe lost vision in one eye after she was allegedly stabbed by her ex-boyfriend. She now fears for her life because the man, who is on parole for murder, was released from custody.

The Soweto woman who lost vision in one eye after she was allegedly stabbed by her ex-boyfriend fears she could soon become a statistic in the growing number of women who are killed by their lovers after her attacker was released.

Sonto Radebe, 37, has had to flee her home and is now living in hiding with relatives.

Radebe was allegedly attacked by her ex-lover, who refused to accept that she had ended their relationship.

Radebe reported the man, who is on parole for killing his baby mama, after the incident.

She had opened cases of rape, assault and attempted murder against the man.

But to her surprise, she learnt from the investigating officer that the case against him had been withdrawn.

"I know that he will come and finish me off," she told Sowetan.

"I moved out of my rented room to live with my brother because I can't sleep at night."

Radebe said regular reports of women who are killed by their partners terrified her and her family.

"The story about a woman who was shot in front of her child scared me. I have nightmares about my ex shooting me. In the dream he sits down next to me after he has shot me to make sure I am dead.

"My family, that is in KwaZulu-Natal, called me the other day and said they saw someone who looked like him, but it turned out to be a false alarm. My children know about what happened to me and they are scared."

Radebe said the justice system has failed her. "After I learned that he was released I called the investigating officer several times but he did not give me clear answers.

"At some point he said he did not know why the matter was withdrawn. Thereafter he said it's because there was no evidence and then he ignored my calls. I called the police head office in Pretoria, where they told me that the system did not show why he was released; and the Krugersdorp prison where he was held said they only had his old [criminal] record," she said.

Police spokesman Constable Mzwakhe Xazi said they were investigating a case of attempted murder but that he did not have information about developments in the case.

"According to the system, the accused appeared in the Protea Magistrate's Court in April. The system does not say if the matter was withdrawn but the case is still open and under investigations," he said.

"The docket will contain information about what happened in court but I am not in possession of the docket."

National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Phindi Mjonondwane said she could not trace the case in Roodepoort, where Radebe believes the man last appeared.

"Roodepoort, Kagiso and Krugersdorp courts could not trace the matter. The complainant is welcome to approach us or lodge representations so that her matter can be attended to," she said.

This is not the first time Radebe has been given the run-around by the authorities when trying to report her attacker.

In September, she opened a case of rape against the same man and gave police his address and photo but he was not arrested until Sowetan reported the matter.

She said at the time police told her to call them whenever she saw him. He then traced her and stabbed her several times on her arms, head and in the eye. The man was arrested a month after the second attack when Sowetan published the story.

Radebe said she had relocated twice but the man had traced her and assaulted her.

More women lay abuse charges

Reported cases of gender-based violence have increased in Gauteng in the past financial year, with more than 500 cases recorded.

This was revealed by Yoliswa Makhasi, head of the department of community safety, during an address to the Gauteng Legislature on the state of crime on Friday.

Of the 550 cases reported between March 2017 and April 2018, only 75 led to convictions, while a staggering 351 cases were subject to ongoing investigations. Some 68 cases were withdrawn, 35 had fines issued while 21 cases were awaiting sentencing.

Makhasi said her department was making steady progress in the fight against gender-based violence in the province.

"It is common knowledge that for trials within the criminal justice system, turnaround times are poor," Makhasi said.

She said it was of concern that 68 cases had been withdrawn.

Makhasi told the legislature that the department was engaging with all stakeholders within the criminal justice cluster to ensure that femicide and gender-based violence cases were dealt with more effectively.

She pleaded with communities to understand that there was a range of delays within the criminal justice system - from the time a crime is reported, an arrest is made, a conviction is secured and a perpetrator is jailed.

MEC for community safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane said the department had consulted researchers on why there was an increase in gender-based violence and femicide around this period of the year. Nkosi-Malobane said this time last year the department noted an increase in reported incidents, and again this year.

She attributed the increase in reported incidents of femicide and gender-based violence to the access to social media and awareness campaigns. - Tankiso Makhetha


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