A 20-year-old woman at a Covid-19 quarantine facility near Mossel Bay has been removed from the site after allegedly being raped by a cleaner.
The 27-year-old suspect was arrested on Friday after he allegedly sexually violated the woman in her room, said police spokesperson Christopher Spies.
The incident was reported to medical personnel at the facility, who alerted the police.
“Mossel Bay Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) is investigating a case of rape following an incident at a quarantine site near Mossel Bay on Friday, September 11 at about 13:00.
“It is alleged that the 20-year-old victim was in her room when the suspect entered and sexually violated her. This matter was later reported to medical personnel at the facility who alerted the police.
“Investigation led to the arrest of a 27-year-old suspect later. The suspect is still in custody and will appear in the Mossel Bay Magistrate’s Court on Monday (today). He is facing a charge of rape,” said Spies.
Neither Premier Alan Winde nor Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo would answer questions about the incident and referred the Cape Times to the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works.
This despite the department’s spokesperson Jandré Bakker saying the woman had been removed from the site by the Department of Health to a different location.
“Quarantine and isolation facilities are under the custodianship of the Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW). The site is not owned by the DTPW.
“Facility managers are appointed to manage facilities on behalf of the DTPW. Some of the functions include security and cleaning services. The DTPW received a report of an alleged sexual assault at its quarantine and isolation facility in Mossel Bay.
“The DTPW takes any such allegations very seriously and we are giving our full support to the investigation. The suspect, an employee of the appointed cleaning company, has been taken into custody by the South African Police Service.
“The alleged victim has been taken from the site by the Department of Health to a different location and is receiving the needed support,” Bakker said.
SA Human Rights Commission commissioner Chris Nissen said: “The person has Covid-19. That alone puts the victim’s life in danger and you again rape that person. That is a very senseless behaviour.”
The matter must take its course and the perpetrator must face jail time, he said. “I am happy that the provincial government has taken steps and responded quickly regarding the incident. The victim’s dignity has been destroyed and tarnished and that can not go unattended.
“While the government is busy fighting Covid-19, then this person sees an opportunity to rape a Covid-19 patient and by doing so this person is increasing the number of Covid-19 infections in the province and also bringing down the dignity of women. He is now a threat in society,” Nissen said.
Earlier this year, activists were outraged when an 18-year-old woman was allegedly raped by a 36-year-old man at the controversial temporary shelter set up by the City for the homeless on a sports field in Strandfontein. The accused was released on R2 000 bail.
On the recent incident, Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siya Monakali said: “It’s sad that even in times of crisis perpetrators of violence against women and children know no boundaries. While we are battling the Covid-19 pandemic we continue to suffer the consequences of a violent society. We hope that quarantine facilities do everything within their powers to ensure the safety of vulnerable persons, particularly women.”