Police fail to act against suspected rapist

Windhoek: The police failed to arrest a rape suspect, despite a case having been opened a week ago by the victim. The suspect is known, but continues to operate a shebeen in Windhoek on a part-time basis.

The victim and the suspect both rented space on the same premises in Okuryangava, where the alleged rape victim rented a room, while the suspected perpetrator ran a shebeen nearby.

The incident happened last week Sunday evening. The suspect apparently entered the room of the 23-year-old woman, where he found her sleeping, before he reportedly proceeded to violate her.

“I’m not happy that he is not arrested. I’m at a shelter, but when I go to work I feel like he can get me anyway and hurt me again,” said the victim. When she enquired from the officer who attended to her case at the Gender-Based Violence Investigation Unit (GBVIU) why the suspect has not yet been arrested, she was told the case has not been allocated to an investigator yet.

“The officer told me that once an officer is working on the case I will be called, but she does not know when that will be,” the highly traumatised victim explained.

Unhappy with the answer, the victim called the police officer again, only to be informed that in her statement she mentioned a witness who also needs to give her side of the story. “The officer said that she was just ‘on standby’ and was off duty now. She said we should not call her and gave us a number to call the office instead, but my calls are not going through,” the victim said.

The witness she mentioned in her statement is a barlady, whom she told her story to after she was sexually assaulted. She said the barlady told her she does not have taxi fare to go to the offices of GBVIU immediately.

The victim recounted that she had finishing washing her work uniform at around 16h00 that day. She then went to inform the barlady that she was tired and was going to take a nap.

“I undressed and put on a towel with the intention to go bath, but I told myself that I would just lie down for a while,” she recalled, adding that she had not locked her room.

Because she was tired she fell fast asleep and between 20h00 and 21h00 the suspect sneaked into her room, where he undressed himself, she said.

“It’s like I was dreaming. I don’t know how he removed his clothes. He told me he wants to have sex with me. I was fighting and screaming, but the jukebox in the shebeen was loud. I told him I would report him to the police, but he pleaded with me not to. He said he wants to have a child with me and marry me,” she said.

She says the man offered to give her money to go buy the morning-after pill, but he did not. After the suspect left, the victim went to relate the story to the barlady, who is employed by the suspect.

The victim said she also informed her neighbour and then called the police toll-free number and asked to be put through to the GBVIU, but the person on the other end told her to go there in person the following day. She then decided to go the mobile police station.

“The officer there asked if me if I did not call the GBVIU first and if I was not told to go in person the following day. Eventually the security guard intervened and they gave me a letter to go see a doctor,” she narrated.

The victim also bemoaned the unsympathetic treatment and slow response she received when she went to GBVIU. “When I spoke the officers on duty just sat there unbraiding their hair,” said the tearful young woman.

When New Era asked the police yesterday why the suspect – whose whereabouts are known – has not been taken into custody yet, police spokesperson Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi said she would revert back to the reporter with answers, but did not do so by the time of going to print.