A South African court on Monday began proceedings against more than 80 people arrested after the brazen gang rape of eight women. The women were filming a music video last week when they were attacked by masked, armed men.
Women’s rights activists protested outside the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court against the high rates of gender violence in South Africa as dozens of men detained in sweeping arrests in the aftermath of the incident were set to appear in court.
No one has yet been charged with rape and police investigations into the incident are continuing.
Eight women were raped and robbed while shooting a video in the mining area of Krugersdorp outside Johannesburg last Thursday, Police Ministry spokeswoman Lirandzu Themba told VOA.
They were approached by men wearing balaclavas and firing guns in the air and raped multiple times.
“On Sunday the police minister Bheki Cele met six of the eight survivors of the gang rape that has shocked the country,” said Themba.
The youngest of the women was just 19, Cele said after the meeting. “Let me tell you, they’re quite traumatized. They’re not in a good shape, mentally or otherwise.”
Local media reported that many of those arrested were believed to be illegal miners, known here as zama-zamas, and that some had also been arrested for being illegal immigrants from neighboring countries. Two suspects were killed during the shootout with police last Thursday.
The more than 80 men have now been charged with contravention of the immigration act and possession of stolen goods, police said.
It was unclear how many, if any, of them were connected directly to the gang rapes, Cele said, adding that forensic testing was pending. “Many people have been arrested but we need the real perpetrators among those people,” said Cele.
South Africa is celebrating Women’s Month through August.
Shenilla Mohamed, executive director of Amnesty International South Africa, said the rights group was “outraged” by the gang rapes.
“It is unacceptable that woman and children in South Africa are still unsafe due to the high levels of domestic and sexual violence. Authorities must do much more to ensure that South Africa becomes a safer place for women and children and that they do not live in fear,” said Mohamed.
Despite having a very high rate of rape and gender-based violence, the brutal attack has shocked South Africa, which begins celebrating Women's Month from Monday.
More than 36,000 cases of rape were recorded in the country in the financial year 2020 – 2021.