Komani pupils demanded that law enforcement agents make Komani safer when they collectively delivered a petition at the Queenstown Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Grade 11 Hexagon High School pupil Milasande Thafeni read out the petition in the presence of hundreds of pupils and Komani locals who had marched to the court following the recent brutal attack and rape of a 15-year-old girl.
The Rep reported (Komani rape shock, August 23) that a scholar who was a spectator at another school’s matric dance was allegedly beaten to a pulp and raped by a 24-year-old man who had offered to organise transport for her to get home.
The accused made his second appearance at the court on Monday where he elected to abandon his bail application. He remains in custody and will appear before the court on September 16.
A group of disgruntled residents bearing “no bail for him or we protest” placards took to the streets in support of the victim. The march is said to have been mobilised to also advocate for a safe society and put an end to the culture of rape.
The petition which was handed to department of justice magistrate Dorinda Oosthuysen outside court read: “The disrespect for and encroachment on the safety of inhabitants of the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality in particular and the wider community are not acceptable. The safety of us as the future of the country needs to be guaranteed with greater commitment by the organs of law enforcement as well as all spheres of our communities. This commitment is in terms of guaranteed safety when using any transport, attending any function, being involved in social activities irrespective of the time of day, without any school, gender or race being favoured.”
Oosthuysen, who accepted the petition, said: “This shows the commitment of this community and without your commitment law enforcement cannot happen. Thank you for your concern. We have taken note of the petition and I will make sure that it gets to the correct hands.
Speaking to The Rep, the victim’s family spokesperson, Luzuko Mondisa, indicated that the entire family was traumatised. “We are grateful for the support shown by every organisation and the community at large. I can’t imagine what the mother must be going through. We trust that justice will be served.
“We are happy that he took the decision to abandon his bail application. He must have realised that he doesn’t deserve to get bail. We are hopeful that something positive will come out of this,” said the victim’s mother.
Responding to whether the girl will return to school, her mother confirmed that a unanimous decision for her relocation was made by the family. She added that the child will leave Komani and further her studies at a different school.
Ndembe, who also leads the education department’s special programmes unit, said the department had recently launched a women’s desk that seeks to drive the agenda of the empowerment of women, including pupils. “Our message is very clear, we will not tolerate this behaviour from male counterparts. We are breaking the silence and we want to put an end to this,” he said.
Uncedo Taxi Association Komani branch spokesperson Thami Qakana said in a meeting with a representative from the department of education the association had agreed to provide transportation for pupils who were part of the protest as a way of showing solidarity. “We want the community to know that we are against what this man has done and our support goes to the families and the rest of the community,” said Qakana.