Over 120 men arrested after gang rape of eight women in South Africa
The men are accused of being part of a gang that violently attacked a music video shoot in an abandoned mine in Krugersdorp, a small town just outside of Johannesburg, on 28 July.
The models and crew, the youngest of whom was 19 and the eldest 37, were raped up to ten times each over several hours by the illegal miners, also known as “zama zamas.”
The gang are also accused of systematically robbing the crew and girls of their mobile phones, rings, jewellery, handbags, cash and cameras.
Initially, 84 men were arrested in the aftermath of the attack, but on Tuesday police made extra arrests of artisanal miners, bringing the total number of people detained since the attack to more than 120.
One man was shot dead on Tuesday as police apprehended the gang after two were killed yesterday.
However, none of the men and boys arrested have been charged with alleged sexual assault or rape. Police have said they hope DNA tests will enable them in coming days to connect some of those detained with the alleged gang rape.
Although none of the more than 120 people detained have been directly linked to the assaults, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the crimes have prompted police to step up their planned crackdown on local crime in general, including arms trafficking, illegal immigration, and theft of precious metals.
Shame of the nation
“I know many people have been arrested, but we need the real perpetrators. The evidence that has been collected by the police – biological evidence […] will have to help us to link the real perpetrators,” Cele told reporters on 1 August.
“What happened in Krugersdorp is just a shame of the nation.”
The rape has sparked outrage across South Africa, with hundreds of demonstrators gathering outside the court in Krugersdorp on Monday to demand justice.
In a South African Police Service Facebook post, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa denounced the gang rape and called on communities to work with police to ensure that these criminals are apprehended and prosecuted.
The president acknowledged in that post that gender based violence and femicide is “a deeply rooted social problem.”
The incident happened last Thursday when a production crew was readying the set at an abandoned mining site for a music video shoot.
“The crew of 22 people–12 women and 10 men–was busy filming a music video when they were allegedly attacked by a group of armed men clad in blankets,” the police commissioner for Gauteng province, Lt Gen Elias Mawela, said in a statement.
“The suspects ordered everyone to lay down and proceeded to rape eight of the women and robbed everyone of their belongings before fleeing the scene.”
While no one has been charged over the assault yet, the men appeared in court this week on charges of illegal entry into the country, possession of stolen goods, possession of firearms and illegal mining.
Two victims of the heinous assault spoke to the Sunday Times to share their ordeal. They said that they initially “tried to escape” the group of men but were “encircled and raped one by one.”
“The first person who was raped was me. The first time, they took me to the bush and the second time, they took me to a hole where no one could see us. They kept telling the younger boys to rape us and they’d hit them and force them to do so,” a woman who booked the models for the video shoot told the newspaper.
“The young boys would then take us, one by one, to the bushes. The last time they raped me was in front of the other group,” she said.
A 19-year-old victim of the crime told the Sunday Times that she “lied to her attacker that she had suffered a miscarriage to be saved from being raped further.”
“I had no way out but to lie, because they were picking us up one by one. There were others who were raped by six to 10 men,” she revealed. Buzz.ie