By Shaun Gillham
A JOHANESSBURG businesswoman, who survived a 15-hour gang rape ordeal at the Port Elizabeth beachfront over a year ago, says she now considers herself “one year old” – a mantra for starting her life over. However, 49-year-old Andy Kawa also launched a scathing attack on the South African justice system and revealed how she was only contacted by the officer investigating her case for the first time on February 29 this year – 14 months after she was attacked.
Raped and left for dead by her brutal attackers at Kings Beach on December 9 2010, Kawa was back in the city this week to face the only suspect charged for the attack. Bush-dweller Mzwandile Jakavula, 52, appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court, but the case was postponed until March 29.
Weekend Post broke the story last year of Kawa’s gang-rape hell in which at least four men are believed to have participated, even though only Jakavula was eventually charged.
Her case is eerily similar to that of Alison, who survived a brutal “ripper” rape attack at another coastal spot, Noordhoek in Port Elizabeth, and Kawa said she had drawn strength from Alison’s story.
“Every day presents new challenges,” Kawa said. “The court case in Port Elizabeth is an example. I come down here from Johannesburg, having to deal with all the memories and what is about to take place at court, but the case is not even heard,” she said.
Kawa was in Port Elizabeth on business when she was abducted in broad daylight after deciding to go for a walk along Kings Beach. She was only discovered early the following morning by a passing jogger. Her case was handed to the police’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit and she was admitted to Dora Nginza Hospital.
While Kawa has made some peace with her attack, she said the fact police still only had one suspect in court was difficult. She said she had decided to speak out about the gang-rape to aid “victims who are still struggling to get justice”.
“I have found through my case that despite the police having established a special unit, it is totally incompetent,” she said. “Last year I came to Port Elizabeth three times to beg for police action and for a proper investigation so the suspects in my case could be arrested.”
She said while part of her told her she should accept what happened and “let it go”, another said the perpetrators were still out there. “So it is a difficult process because how can you forgive and forget if the perpetrators are still out there?”
Kawa revealed that during the court appearance she became aware of three other rape cases at the court on the same day. “One of them was a minor – a little boy. So rape is also something that affects not just women, but children and even little boys. I looked at the little boy and thought to myself: I really hope he will find healing.”
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday March 17, 2012.