On 28th July 2022, eight women were allegedly gangraped by 14 men. The women were attacked, allegedly by the group, while they were shooting a music video on an abandoned mine in West Village in Krugersdorp, South Africa. According to the reports the accused men are alleged illegal miners.
All the men including a minor (15 years old) are now facing charges of sexual assault and robbery with aggravating circumstances. All the male suspects were represented in the court on 28 September 2022 but the Court officials said the case was postponed due to the state’s inability to link DNA evidence against the accused, the fact that one suspect is a minor, and collection of further evidence.
The men made a brief appearance in the Krugersdorp Magistrates Court before their matter was postponed for further investigation.
This delay in the case has put the spotlight on the forensic backlogs of South Africa’s forensic laboratories. Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said the ministry would not comment on the ongoing case, despite having done so previously, and instead argued that significant strides had been made in reducing the DNA backlogs.
He said, as of this week, the backlog status was under 90,524, a further 37.05% decrease from the previous quarter. Themba attributed the reduction of the backlog to better contract management, an increased workforce as laboratories’ operating hours had been doubled, and the ministry working around the clock to ensure much-needed chemicals for DNA processing are acquired in time.
An investigating officer, who asked not to be named, said the postponement was the result of the State needing more time for further investigations, and confirmed that crucial DNA evidence had been outstanding.
The prosecution said it has established prospects of a successful prosecution against the 14 accused, who faces charges including contravening the Immigration Act, multiple counts of rape, robbery with aggravated circumstances and theft.
However, the rape case against the 14 alleged illegal miners has still been prejudiced by the state’s challenges. The matter has been postponed to November due to DNA evidence.