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What was meant by police minister's 'lucky rape' comment?

03 August 2022 - 12:41
Police minister Bheki Cele, centre, in conversation with eNCA anchors Thulasizwe Simelane, left, and Sally Burdett after the news of the Krugersdorp gang rapes broke. Comments made by the minister during this conversation have been met with ire by some South Africans.
Police minister Bheki Cele, centre, in conversation with eNCA anchors Thulasizwe Simelane, left, and Sally Burdett after the news of the Krugersdorp gang rapes broke. Comments made by the minister during this conversation have been met with ire by some South Africans.
Image: Screengrab via eNCA/YouTube

Police minister Bheki Cele faces another foot-in-mouth saga, this time for his comments on the horrific rapes at a Krugersdorp mine dump on Thursday.

In conversation with eNCA anchors Thulasizwe Simelane and Sally Burdett on Friday, he gave details about the shocking attack, including that one woman had been raped by 10 men.

A clip of the interview has gone viral because the minister said one of the women “was lucky — if it is lucky” to be raped by just one man.

The context of the comment was that this woman was the only one who wasn't gang-raped.

His words were: “One woman was raped by 10 different men. The other one by eight, the other one by six, the other one by four, [the other by] three. The one 19-year-old was lucky — if it is lucky — [to be] raped by one man.”

Despite qualifying the sentence with “if it is lucky”, the minister has received backlash for the comment.

On Twitter, Mudzuli Rakhivhane, spokesperson for the One SA Movement, tweeted a clip of the conversation, commenting “Is this how the police think about rape? That victims in SA are lucky when they’re only raped by one person? Is this the state of our nation?”

Her tweet has garnered more than 40 comments so far, with most of the responses negative towards the minister.

@LaniCoetzee said: “It’s like he is talking about a bumper bashing. This is an horrific crime that has traumatised every victim and will affect them and their loved ones for a very long time. Why is he not furiously screaming about it? Not political enough for him?”

@MaGedeza commented that the minister was merely saying it was one man as opposed to several: “I’m actually more worried about the people who liked your comment than your comprehension. The lady was raped, the only difference is she was raped by one man as opposed to the others who were raped by multiple men.”

@TeresaOakley-Smith replied: “Outrageous comment, luck is nothing to do with rape.”

@GeehSport commented: “Imagine just one victim fearfully walking into a police station to report this brutal violation — only to be met with gross indifference and an apathetic response: 'Go home, you were lucky...' Which rock have we crawled out from? We really are living in prehistoric times.”

@Malebabo4 said: “It's a language issue,” to which @briceoka replied: “The word lucky is one of the most straightforward words in the English language.”

@mokoneMatebele retorted: “You know very well you misinterpreted the minister. What happened to those ladies is very painful, any side debate about the use of English and context would really be uncalled for.”

When asked for clarity on the statement, police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said: “There is no comment on this matter at this point.”

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