The only mistake she made was asking her friend’s neighbour for a light. Her assailant Nqinqo K. dragged Millicent Gaika (30) into his shack, marking the start of a five-hour ordeal. Nqinqo was not a stranger to the young woman. They had already seen each other on several occasions when Millicent was visiting friends who live on the same property. Several shacks stand next to the house on a busy street in Guguletu, a township about 15 kilometres from downtown Cape Town.
Millicent arrived at the house around 9pm with another friend. Around 11 she left the group to find a lighter. Although she didn’t return her friends didn’t become suspicious, as they thought Millicent had just gone home.
The truth is that not even 10 metres away she was victim of a violent crime that in South Africa goes by the chilling name of ‘corrective rape’. Apparently for Nqinqo the lesbianism of his victim motivated his crime, at least in part. “You act like a man!” he shouted again and again during the rape, and that he would now impregnate her, “make (her) a son”. Millicent struggled against her assailant, screamed for help, which is why the rapist puncher her and choked her repeatedly during the hours-long assault. Nqinqo dispatched of neighbours made suspicious by the noise at the door by saying that it was nothing more than his drunken girlfriend.
Many residents confirm that they tried to alarm the police for hours, with no success. Two men from Zimbabwe who live in the neighbouring shack said that during the initial hours of the attack that no one answered the telephone at the police station. Not until four in the morning were the men successful in reaching someone. The police car arrived, quickly followed by a tumult during which Nqinqo K. was arrested. He’s been in custody since. Millicent Gaika was treated in hospital and at the moment is living in a safe location cared for by members of the self-help group Lulekisizwe. Unfortunately this is not Millicent’s first such traumatic experience of this kind. Back in 2002 she was raped because she is an out lesbian in Guguletu.
Right now, just two days afterwards, the anger about the rape in the neighbourhood is still palpable everywhere. There is frustration about the police, who apparently do not take the issue seriously enough. Many of the neighbours fear the rapist will be released from jail if someone can be found to front him the (usually low) bail. Calls for people to take justice into their own hands are getting louder. However the event also brought to light how much the topic of rape is still taboo in South African society – hours after his arrest a niece in the family of the rapist revealed that she had also been raped by Nqinqo K. on multiple occasions. This broke the dam of silence, as it next came out that several female relatives had been sexually abused by him for years. And Nqinqo K. has already been convicted of one previous rape.
For Ndumie Funda from the women’s self-help group Lulekisizwe, this most recent case is the straw that has broken the camel’s back. She is planning a demonstration against ‘corrective rape’ in the township. Millicent is a member of the group herself and an avid player on Lulekisizwe’s football team. She agreed to the publishing of both her name and photo because she knows that if something doesn’t happen soon one of her friends will be next.
The rape on Good Friday prompts many questions, especially for outsiders: about the causes of the large-scale violence against women, notably against lesbians in South African society, about the taboo on topics of sexuality and violence, about social courage and responsibility, about the failure of the security forces and the justice system. Kapstadtreporter plans to cover these questions in the coming days and weeks.
At the moment Lulekisizwe carries out its work without any sort of public or private support, it is an organisation of women affected by these types of crimes. All of them have only the minimum of what they need to just barely get by. This is why any and every donation is absolutely essential in order to provide women like Millicent with medications and foodstuffs after such an attack. The Kapstadtreporter would be pleased about any donations made to them:
- Luleki Sizwe LBT Women’s Project;
- Business transaction account 071362940;
- Branch Code 024909;
- Swift Code SBZA ZA JJ STANDARD BANK;
- Reference: Donation campaign Millicent.