I followed the story from three days after the brutal attack until the time of the court proceedings, only to witness the lack of solicitude, funding, healthcare, resources and further victimization of the victims at the hands of a system that can barely cope with a rape epidemic.
The articles reflected on Ndumie Funda and Luleki Sizwe a small unfunded group of lesbians who struggled on a daily basis to bring perpetrators to justice, while struggling to survive and having to fight their way through a system of ineptitude.
Ultimately we succeeded in raising funds for a safe house, presenting reforms to the Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe, by invitation to South Africa, after we sent 200,000 e-mail signatures, through the all time highest ranking petition on change.org and served as the impetus for a newly established LGBT task force on hate crimes in South Africa, in partnership with Department of Justice & Constitutional Development.
What follows is a recap of the most poignant of all the articles – the one that garnished the most international attention and serves as the impetus for the change.org petition. Thereafter is a snapshot of some of the very many articles covering the story. If you are interested in any of the articles please feel to contact Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lesbian Corrective Rape Victim has Her Day in Court
By Melanie Nathan 11-05-2010. (Updated February 14, 2011) 4,444 Face Book Shares/ 56,000 visitors
This is the face of South African lesbian who was beaten and raped for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”. This is the face of a warrior who despite all odds, trauma, and police victimization, found her way to Court today by public transportation, to testify against her brutal attacker, who remained free on bail to -in essence- board the same bus. The Police were simply not willing to give this young woman a ride to the Court.
A spokesperson for Millicent Gaika contacted us back in April and we have been shedding light on the plight of Lesbian “corrective rape” in South Africa ever since. Today was Millicent Gaika’s day in court.
Her attacker acted like an animal who wanted to kill, strangling her with barbed wire; “I thought he was going to kill me; he was like an animal. And he kept saying: ‘I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.” The attacker was known To Gaika, a neighbor.
“He started hitting me and I fought back. Then he started doing what he did to me. He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He did it more than once. He was holding me down, strangling me and pushing his hands hard on to my neck.” The attack ended only ended after neighbors finally heard her screams, broke down the assailant’s door and found Gaika naked from the waist down on a bed and bleeding. They then held the assailant until police arrived.
Millicent was in severe shock and traumatized to the point of wanting to kill herself. She made contact with me mere days after it happened through Ndumie Funda from LulekiSizwe, a small unfunded groups that helped Millicent and other survivors. Millicent sent me the shocking photos with a brave plea to publish them so the world could see. It was then I realized that I was dealing with an extraordinary group of young women. This bravery continued as today Millicent was able to testify in Court, despite threats on her life and the release of the perpetrator back into the same neighborhood, on minimal bail.
It took everything she had to get to Court today, Friday- but she was propped up by other such victims and has not given up, despite the repeated threats and fears, determined to bring ‘the animal’ to justice. What makes this so much worse for Millicent Gaika is that this is not the first time Millicent has suffered such brutality. She was raped by a group of four men some years back, same motive and testified against them – they are serving 15 year sentences.
Today after the hearing I received this very perplexing and outrageous email and I have Left it in the original English (by Ndumie Funda) who has been caring for Millicent since the attack. English her second language readers may find this difficult to understand – but to change the emotion and terror behind its originality, I must report verbatim:
“Meza, (that is my SA “sister” name) – I’ve never been so tired like yesterday in my in tire life,we arrived in Wyneberg court at 8.30am,Millicent was ready to take a stand she was called in at 10am ,were not allowed to enter the court reason for the they said journalist were going to wright the false story.I then spoke to Milicent about that and she was fine with getting everybody in including the journalist.Then i again the persuaded her not to allow anybody in while she was testifying not even her own mother was allowed to get in inside.We all sit in the bangers next to us was the Andile Ncoza the guy who raped Millicent,all he does was steering as me with those angry eyes .not forget last week while i was driving passing his house he was standing out side ,when he saw my car he was swearing at me and saying i’m gonna get you bitch.Back to Milly she was alone testifying nervous and the court was surrounded with cameras,i remember her telling me yesterday that while she was standing in front of the magistrate facing Andile Ncoza the whole picture came back,1pm was lunch time and Andile was walking to the shop all the Luleki Sizwe together with Milly’s friends and his niece who happened to be a lesbians were singing a song called Elizuma lilapha lisenzeli wari/it means this rapist is making us worried cameras where on him.He could’nt come out of the shop ,his niece that happened to Milly’s friend throw him with water some spit in his face .we spand the whole day in court we left 4.30pm,next court case is next Wednesday in Wynberg court f 5th floor “
Is this how Justice is metered out in South Africa, that the trauma of the victim is exacerbated by the unjust freedom of the perpetrator, caught in the act, during the time of trial, while a victim is giving testimony? What is wrong with this picture. DO the South African authorities have no solicitude, responsibility, compassion?
That Millicent is completely without protection at this time is nothing short of an absolute outrage – that such bravery is rewarded with more fear?
Here is a call to the Cape Argus and other Papers in South Africa and around the world to comment on this flagrant disregard for the life a woman who is deeply committed to fight for her her own justice. Millicent is a hero.
It is amazing to me how the group impacted by this threat has not yet resorted to street justice – after all they are under direct threat of attack and the authorities don’t give a damn!
Ndumi Funda, the founder and director of Luleki Sizwe Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women’s Project in Nyanga:-
“This needs to be stopped. We know of so many that this happens to and nothing is done about it. How many more young lesbian women must die?”
In South Africa one of out 4 people are HIV positive or have aids, and many lesbians have contracted HIV/AIDS because of these rapes and have died.
A statement released by South Africa’s national prosecuting authority said: “While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project.”
We demand that South African President Zuma change that and do something!
FEBRUARY 14 – 2011
UPDATE: Minister of Justice has agreed to meet on REFORMS-
Over 1 million signatures supporting the petition for corrective rape reform have been collected worldwide, also calling for the harshest sentences to perpetrators of corrective rape and that government acknowledges the existence of corrective rape which, it says the government seems to deny at present.
“We will meet with Luleki Sizwe to discuss the matter. I called them last week to enquire about the logistical aspects of this meeting. They indicated that they would like the meeting to take place in Cape Town. In all likelihood the meeting will take place in Cape Town”, Tlali Tlali spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development said.
6 November 2010
Dear Millicent and all comrades accompanying the trial
The Lesbian and Gay equality Project sends it full solidarity to Millicent and all of you during this time. We all know too well that claiming/demanding justice is no easy for many people who experience and suffer multiple forms of oppression. That discomfort and fear makes many unable to walk the path that you are so bravely engaged in right now.
Millicent, you will be speaking for so many who have been unable to. We send you positive energies to continue boosting your courage and strength. All the best Sister!
With lots of love, respect and solidarity for the days ahead!
Phumi -Phumzile S. Mtetwa , Executive Director -Lesbian and Gay Equality Project