It’s also the story of one of our country’s specialist sexual offences courts and how this court helped her do it.
Walking home from a friend’s house one Sunday afternoon nineteen year old Dalia realised she was going to be home later than she had told her parents. Taking a short cut through an abandoned building , she surprised a group of gangsters smoking tik.
All 10 of them raped her. All 10 of them were known to her.
She finally made it home very late to her frantic parents. Even though they were all afraid of how they might be intimidated, Dalia’s parents supported her wish to report the men to the police.
The Rape Crisis court supporter for Cape Town sexual offences court that day was Estelle. She and Dalia then met with the specially trained state prosecutor for her case. In the separate waiting room for rape case complainants, Estelle explained what the court expected of Dalia and how the trial would proceed. It was only when she showed Dalia round the empty court room, that she asked how many men had been accused.
If there are 10 accused in a trial then the rape survivor has to tell her story to the court 10 times.
Hearing this, Dalia broke down, and said she couldn’t go through with it. But Estelle took her straight to the prosecutor’s office and requested that Dalia be allowed to give her evidence in a separate room via closed circuit television (CCTV), so that she would not have to face any of the accused in court.
Each day as she gave her testimony in the weeks that went by, Estelle sat beside her, and held her when she cried until she was calm enough to continue. She also kept Dalia in the intermediary room until the accused rapists and their defence teams had left the court before bringing her out to her waiting parents.
All 10 men had been behind bars awaiting trial since their arrest. All 10 were found guilty. All 10 were sentenced to more than 20 years in jail. Dalia said she could never have done it without Estelle.
The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign will hold the South African government to its promise to establish specialised sexual offences courts across South Africa. All rape survivors deserve access to a separate waiting room, to CCTV if the case warrants it, to the expertise of a specialist prosecutor, to skilled interpreters and specially trained magistrates. They all deserve to be supported by someone like Estelle.
You can donate to the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign right now by clicking here.
By making your donation here you can help us to make sure that rape survivors are properly supported, and that more rapists are convicted, as well as help to make our criminal justice system stronger. Thank you.