‘Shame of a nation’: 84 arrested after gang rape in South Africa

Mass sexual assault of eight women has shocked the country with the president denouncing ‘horrible acts of brutality’.

South African Women take part in a protest against gender-based violence nationwide gatherings during 16 Days of Activism on November 28, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. It is reported that about 200 protesters gathered outside parliament to protest against Gender Based Violence. (Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
The national police chief said a probe would establish if the suspects were linked to the rape as no one has been charged yet over the sexual assaults [File: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images/Getty Images]

More than 80 people arrested following a gang rape of eight South African women appeared before a court on Monday as the police minister described the assault as the “shame of the nation”.

A gang of gunmen forced their way into a music video shoot near a mine dump in Krugersdorp, a small town west of Johannesburg, on Thursday.

Eight young women from the cast were raped in an incident that shocked the country, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world.

“What happened in Krugersdorp is just a shame of the nation,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a press briefing on Monday, adding some of the victims would suffer long-term consequences.

“Some of those destructions are permanent with those kids.”

The gang attacked the crew and cast while they were offloading equipment and preparing the set, according to police.

Police have blamed illegal immigrants working in mines – known locally as Zama Zama – and arrested 84 people during a swoop in the area.

Two more suspects were killed in a shootout with police and a third was wounded and taken to a local hospital, police said.

On Monday, those held started to appear before a court on charges of entering the country illegally and possessing stolen goods.

National Police Chief Fannie Masemola said a probe would establish if the suspects were linked to the rape. No one has been charged as yet over the sexual assaults.

A small group of demonstrators gathered outside the court demanding swift justice. Some held signs reading “No bail for rapists”, “Am I next?” and “My body is not a crime scene”.

The incident has fuelled an ongoing debate on whether to introduce chemical castration for rapists.

It has also piled pressure on Cele, with critics contending law enforcement agencies are ill-equipped to tackle crime in the country, which has some of the highest murder rates in the world and has recently been hit by a spate of deadly shootings.

In his Monday weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the “horrible acts of brutality are an affront to the right of women and girls to live and work in freedom and safety” as he declared “rapists have no place in our society”.

Source: AFP