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Serial rapist's imprisonment fails to stem UCT sex attacks

29 August 2017 - 13:13 By Farren Collins
University of Cape Town. File photo
University of Cape Town. File photo
Image: UCT Student @UCTStudent via Twitter

Despite the imprisonment of University of Cape Town serial rapist Patrick Hlomane‚ sexual assaults at the university have not declined.

The 16 cases reported in the first half of the year — almost three a month — match the number in the same period of 2016. The disclosure‚ less than a year after Hlomane was given nine life sentences after he confessed to raping five students in 2015 and 2016‚ came on Tuesday as UCT played host to the third leg of the annual Silent Protest.

The event‚ which highlights issues surrounding rape and sexual violence‚ started at Rhodes University in Grahamstown in 2007‚ and more than 3‚000 people attended the first two legs at Rhodes and in KwaZulu-Natal over the past fortnight.

One of the event’s founders‚ Aids Healthcare Foundation regional policy manager Larissa Klazinga‚ said this year’s Silent Protest was also a tribute to Fazeka Kuzwayo‚ the complainant in the Jacob Zuma rape trial who died last year and who helped inspire the event.

Klazinga said the protest had grown into a global event and also took place in countries including Jamaica‚ Guatemala‚ Nigeria and Kenya. But she did not believe that enough was being done to deal with violence against women.

“We have a deputy minister beating somebody up in public and retaining their MP status‚” she said. “We have a famous artist kicking somebody to death and it takes four years to get a conviction. We have famous musicians who beat their partners and are put on the cover of magazines and are held up as excellent fathers.

“Unless we have a national conversation about gender violence that starts in people’s homes I don’t ever think we’re going to win this war.”

According to the foundation‚ more than 50‚000 rapes were reported to the police in 2016. Only 6.5% of reported cases are successfully prosecuted and it takes four years for the perpetrator to be sentenced‚ on average.

Police statistics for the nine months between April and December last year show that Gauteng‚ KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape reported the highest number of rape cases‚ at 5‚974‚ 5‚888 and 5‚846 respectively.

The chairman of UCT’s sexual assault response team‚ Professor Lillian Artz‚ said low conviction rates‚ lengthy court procedures and victimisation bred a culture of impunity when it came to sexual violence.

“We need to start looking at the monitoring of the prosecution of these cases at that level‚” she said. “The [disciplinary] tribunal here [at UCT] is full of all sorts of other matters and that’s why survivors are calling for a specific proctor and a specific prosecutor on sexual offences.”