JOHANNESBURG. — More than 80 suspects have appeared in a South African court following the gang rape of eight women who were attacked while filming a music video last Thursday.
The victims described how they were accosted by gun-wielding men wearing balaclava masks and blankets, who took turns raping them before robbing them of their belongings.
All the suspects are undocumented immigrants and have been charged with contravening the country’s immigration laws.
DNA tests will determine if any of them will face rape charges.
The vicious attack on the women near a disused mine in Krugersdorp has sent shockwaves across South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa called it the “ugly and dark side of society”, and said the magnitude of the problem meant it would no longer be possible to avoid responsibility of reporting sexual offences.
South Africa’s rape conviction rate is low, and civil society groups and opposition political parties have accused the country’s justice system of failing victims.
The suspects who were arrested and appeared in court yesterday, belong to a gang of illegal miners, but they haven’t been officially charged for raping the women aged between 19 and 35.
Police say they must wait for DNA tests to be concluded. Protestors calling for an end to gender-based violence have gathered outside a South African court where the suspects are appearing. The women, who are aged between 19 and 37, were attacked when they were filming a music video on a mining waste dump in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg.
One of the eight victims told a local newspaper that a group of masked illegal miners ordered young men to rape the women and rob them of their belongings.
South African Police Minister Bheki Cele said that after meeting some of the survivors of the attack, he realised the impact it had on them. — BBC.