Johannesburg – Businesswoman and rape survivor Andy Kawa is taking on the system. In her new book, Kwanele: Enough! she lays bare the details of the summer’s day that changed her life and the hard road she was forced to travel to get justice for her attack.
Kawa and her legal representatives are hoping to take her assault case to the Constitutional Court after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the police. The SCA found that the SAPS had fulfilled its duty to protect and investigate her case to the best of its ability. This came after a lower court found in her favour that SAPS had failed in its duty as the “gatekeepers” of South Africa’s laws.
Kawa was raped at New Brighton Beach in Port Elizabeth in 2010 by a group of men who beat her up and threatened her with an okapi. Ironically, the attack happened on the same day she signed papers for a house she had bought for her mother in PE.
She was allegedly told by SAPS that the men who attacked her, were repeat offenders who lived in the bush near the beach.
“The incident itself was horrendous and painful. I had never imagined that something like this could happen to anyone, but it happened to me, and continues to happen to many women and children across this country. As a conscientious parent and responsible citizen, I was never going to stay quiet,” she said.
Kawa told the Saturday Star that to date, the perpetrators are still at large and according to SAPS, the case remains “open”. She even hired a private investigator in her quest for justice.
“The case was never properly investigated. I have received no feedback from police despite one of the exhibits containing blood samples from one of the attackers. But, at the time of the incident, my only thoughts were of how I was going to get out alive.”
She said with the support of family and friends she was able to not only survive the attack, but also the decade-long journey since that fateful day.
Kawa hopes her book will make a difference to the way rape cases are investigated and also the sentences handed down to convicted rapists.
“My experience is not unique. Many cases are withdrawn or gathering dust somewhere in some office. I needed to speak out so that I could see a change in our justice system.”
Kawa said, through her book and the Kwanele Foundation, she hopes that the government will have the same response it had to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Rape is a serious crime, just like murder and robbery, and yet, the responses are like chalk and cheese. I hope that people who have gone through the same experience can find solace. Rape ruins livelihoods. Rape cases are lost in the police machinery.”
Kawa added that the rape conversation could not take place without boy-children and men being part of it.
“Statistics show that 60% of South Africa’s boys themselves have been violated in some way or another. It’s also not just rape but the violence with which we as a society continue to live. It seems like society has accepted GBV. We should have a zero tolerance of all violence. It’s also important to remember that men who rape are not monsters from the forests. They live among us. We all need to be vigilant.”
The author had great praise for her family and friends who offered their unwavering support with all she has had to endure.
“My mother has walked this journey with me, every step of the way. My daughter is my rock, and my brother and sister’s support continues to give me strength.”
Kawa said her main message for rape survivors is that the shame lies with the perpetrators and not the women and children they attack.
“Too often, rape survivors have to prove their innocence or explain why they were at a certain place at a certain time. Until we include men and boy-children in that narrative, the rape pandemic will continue,” she said.
If you want to be a part of the Kwanele: Enough virtual launch on October 23, details are available on Kawa’s FaceBook page.