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Rape drove my niece to suicide seven years later‚ aunt tells court

21 August 2018 - 12:57 By Tanya Farber
Hoya Aviwe is on trial for the crime‚ as well as the rape of four other schoolgirls.
Gavel. File photo. Hoya Aviwe is on trial for the crime‚ as well as the rape of four other schoolgirls.
Image: Thinkstock

Another case of a rape survivor taking her own life has come to light following the death of Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko‚ who committed suicide after allegedly being raped by her boyfriend.

This time it is a 20-year-old who could no longer stand the emotional fallout of a rape attack she experienced on her way to school in Kuyasa‚ Khayelitsha‚ when she was only 13.

According to her family‚ her personality changed after she was raped and she eventually killed herself with poison.

On trial for the crime‚ as well as the rape of four other schoolgirls‚ is Hoya Aviwe‚ who was linked through forensic evidence to all the attacks.

It is alleged that he threatened girls on their way to or from school at knifepoint and took them to a field behind Esangweni High School where he would rape them in a portable toilet.

His victims were attacked in 2011 and 2012 and ranged in age from 10 to 18.

Details of the 20-year-old’s suicide have also shed light on how victims suffer from post-traumatic stress after rape but do not get the appropriate help: she took her life a year ago‚ but the details emerged in court only this week when her aunt stepped into the witness box at the High Court in Cape Town.

Testifying on Monday‚ the woman’s aunt said she left for school around 7am but came back sobbing within the hour.

“I asked her what happened and she said she was raped and I also started crying‚” she said.

The mother of another victim collapsed in the High Court earlier this month after testifying that she had not been able to sleep since her daughter was raped‚ and that the victim “locks herself inside the house” and refuses to play with other children.

She said her daughter would only find peace “once the man who did that to her is dead”.

According to the Suicide Survivors Forum‚ rape survivors frequently develop depression and suicidal thoughts. “And untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.

“About 33% of rape victims have suicidal thoughts‚ about 13% of rape victims will attempt suicide” and‚ because “suicide attempts may occur years after the rape”‚ it isn’t always acknowledged that the rape is the root cause.