Congregants of a church in Khayelitsha were left traumatised and now fear returning to pray after two men barged in, stole cellphones and forced some of the women to strip and perform sexual acts.
CAPE TOWN – Congregants of a local church were left traumatised and now fear returning to pray after two men barged in, stole cellphones and forced some of the women to strip and perform sexual acts.
The men targeted the Zion Church in Khayelitsha in the early hours of Easter Sunday, a special day on the Christian calendar.
Close to 20 mothers and their children had spent the night at the church.
A church member and community leader, Babalwa Kese, said that the victims were asleep when they were attacked in the early hours of Easter Sunday.
“It was load shedding but the shack had a lamp,” Kese said.
She said she was informed that the two perpetrators knocked on the door. One of the women tried to keep the door closed, but she was overpowered by one of the men and she fell to the floor.
“They were armed with what was later discovered to be a toy gun and a knife. They broke the rechargeable lamp that was hanging from the ceiling,” she said.
When the light went out, the duo reportedly told the women to take off their clothes.
“They clearly had evil intentions and forced two women to perform oral sex on them.
“Imagine the humiliation. One woman was elderly. Imagine being forced to take her clothes off in front of church members and then having people watch as you are forced to do sexual acts,” said the community leader.
The men then dragged a young woman out of the building.
“Her mom ran after them, both women were still naked. The younger woman managed to escape and screamed for help,” she said.
The community leader said they found out the identity of the perpetrators.
“We found the cellphones and called the police, two of the church members gave the police their statements.
“The ladies and the children were severely traumatised.
“We don’t feel safe in Taiwan. The police don’t drive into the area, because we don’t have proper roads and other emergency vehicles park outside the area and then walk in between the shacks.
“This may have been the first time we had such an incident, but we are not going to feel comfortable being in church when we could end up robbed or even worse.”
Kese added that she has not been feeling well since the incident.
“It’s difficult for me to accept what happened. I feel like I have failed my fellow congregants because I was supposed to keep them safe.
“If I was there, I believe this would not have happened because one of the men knows me very well and he respects me.
“And that is the reason I think they waited until I left before they could do what they did,” she said.
Western Cape police spokesman Sergeant Wesley Twigg confirmed the two perpetrators were in police custody.
“This office can confirm that Khayelitsha FCS (Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences) are investigating cases of business robbery and sexual assault.
“We can also confirm that two suspects, aged 20 and 25, were arrested. The suspects are due to make their court appearance in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Monday,” Twigg said.
The social service and educational organisation Ilitha Labantu, has offered to assist the victims.
Spokesperson Siya Monakali said: “As an organisation that advocates for the rights of women and children for over 34 years, we are deeply concerned by the high rate of violence that is perpetrated against women and children.
“Acts of this nature should be condemned as they have no place in our society, both the victims and witnesses in this incident will be adversely impacted by the trauma endured.
“We appeal to the police and law enforcement to help ensure that justice is served for the victims of this inhumane act and that those who perpetrate these crimes are brought to book.
“We also would like to extend our services to all those who require psychosocial intervention to contact our social workers on 072 076 6118 or 072 063 4407 for further assistance, both the numbers are WhatsApp compatible.”