Monday, September 8, 2014

South Africa: British Rape Victim, 29, Waiting to See If She Contracts HIV/AIDS

According to the UK-based The Daily Mail (September 8), a British woman, 29, was repeatedly raped at gunpoint during a savage 14-hour ordeal after she and her South African boyfriend, 26, were kidnapped at a South African tourist attraction.

Now, the rape victim faces a nightmare wait to see if she has been infected with HIV/AIDS in a country where roughly 25% of the population has the disease. 

The couple was blindfolded and bundled into their car by four assailants and driven about the country some 200 miles.

The only stops were when the gang visited illegal drinking dens and when the 29-year-old woman was raped.

As the assailants became drunker, they invited other intoxicated people from shanty towns to come and taunt their two white victims tied up in the back of the vehicle.

The men grew increasingly violent as the night wore on, stabbing the 26-year-old South African boyfriend in the leg and beating him repeatedly.

The couple was told that they would be driven across the border into Mozambique and their bodies dumped.

COMMENT: Having visited South Africa several times and well aware  of just how beautiful the country is, I nevertheless DISCOURAGE tourism travel on the basis that predators are virtually everywhere. 

As a matter of interest, the US Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) has classified all major cities in South Africa as "CRITICAL" threat for crime for a number of years now. CRITICAL threat for crime translates into the reality that you're highly likely to be a victim of violent crime unless you fall into a category of being in the minority of most travelers.

There have been several previous postings in STAYING SAFE ABROAD in the past re: South Africa:

The British-South African couple was able to escape from their plight only because their assailants lost control of the car and it overturned. The tourists then scrambled out of the wreckage and fled.

A passing motorist, who stopped to help after seeing the crash, was shot dead and his passenger wounded as the attackers tried to steal their car.

The rape victim, from Gloucestershire, has told friends she feels she is under "a death sentence" from HIV/AIDS.

Although the rape victim in this case has received a post-rape prophylactic series of treatments, they are not always 100% effective, but it could be months before the victim is advised as to whether she has contracted HIV/AIDS.

The British Foreign Office said yesterday it was reviewing advice to visitors to South Africa, and especially Mpumalanga province where the rape happened and where a British woman was shot dead in a robbery last month.

The rape victim arrived in South Africa two weeks ago for a three-month visit.

She and her boyfriend had stopped at a picnic spot on Long Tom Pass in the Drakensberg Mountain region when they were attacked on Saturday (September 6). It is one of the country's busiest tourist routes and the scene of a coach crash in 1999 which killed 26 British visitors.

Piet Posthumus, a family friend of the victim, said: 'This is the worst thing in the world for her. She is so traumatized by the possibility that her life is now under threat because of what has happened….Who knows how this would have ended if the car had not crashed….You have to understand that it is just not safe to get out of your car in South Africa any more."

The ordeal ended when the driver went off the road near Barberton, 50 miles to the south.

The couple later saw two men they believed were part of the gang as police drove them away from the scene. The assailants, a South African and a Zimbabwean, are expected to appear in court today (September 8) accused of rape, abduction and murder.

Nick Sheppard of the British High Commission in Pretoria said travel advice was being reviewed in view of the rape and the murder of Briton Diane Conway in Mpumalanga last month.

Conway, 60, was shot dead after she and her husband confronted an armed robber in their hotel room.

Nick Sheppard said "These are very serious incidents so we have to examine our options."

With a favorable exchange rate, attractive climate, safari parks, beautiful spots and beaches, South Africa has become a tourist magnet. That being said, South Africa is one of the most violent cities in the world with the highest rates of murder and rape. 

Tourists are seen as "soft targets" by unemployed men and access to handguns.

There are almost 20,000 murders a year - 60 times more than in the UK. 

Nearly 50,000 rapes were reported to police last year, but the true total is estimated at 30 times more.

The non-profit known as Childline says a girl born in South Africa is more likely to be raped in her lifetime than learn to read.

South Africa also has the highest number of people in the world with HIV/AIDS.  Some estimates put it at 25% of the population.