Once again we are waking up to find that a man has been raped while being held in police custody. Worse he was in the holding cells at Graaff-Reinet police station rather than the local prison where it is not as easy to keep prisoners under scrutiny all the time.
According to Inspector Mornay Van Eck of the Graaff-Reinet police station, the rape took place around 1.30am in the early hours of this morning. Apparently 4 men had been arrested for alleged drunkenness and were placed in the same cell.
Nothing wrong with that per se.
Where the police fall down is that in many instances everyone is simply thrown into a holding cell and then left to their own devices. This incident was discovered a while later by their hourly patrol. If there was proper monitoring by camera or audio it would not be so easy or desirable to add a possible life sentence to your drunk-driving charge.
Once discovered the 37-year-old man was removed from the cell leaving the other 3 in custody. The victim was not taken to hospital and an investigation into the attack has been opened.
Rape and other sex crimes by prisoners is not — despite what the public thinks — peculiar to South Africa. It is a worldwide phenomena and is as prevalent in other countries as it is here.
In Australia for example WA Today reported on a study conducted on the prisoners in just the Perth area.
It is an eye-opener and unfortunately highlights the grim lack of determination to stamp out male-on-male rape.
Many people simply believe that it is some kind of additional punishment merited by anyone unfortunate enough to land up in prison.
In essence that if you find yourself being jailed for a year for fraud, being raped is just some kind of occupational hazard.
Moreover that men can’t be raped (morally — not legally) “because they have such strong sex drives”.
Whatever the reason for the dilatory approach to dealing with it, the time to start stamping it out in our prisons and police stations is long overdue.
A couple of life sentences for that charge in addition to whatever other offences they may have committed will soon give prisoners a real reason to consider their actions before trying it on.