Gender-Based Violence has reached crisis proportions, with 223 554 rape cases reported in South Africa in the past five years. Women are being brutalised, and their constitutional rights are violated with impunity.

South African law around rape

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007 (Act No. 32 of 2007) defines rape as any person (“A”) who unlawfully and intentionally commits an act of sexual penetration with a complainant (“B”), without the consent of B, is guilty of the offence of rape; and “sexual penetration” is defined as:

Any act which causes penetration to any extent whatsoever by:
(a) the genital organs of one person into or beyond the genital organs, anus, or mouth of another person;
(b) any other part of the body of one person or any object, including any part of the body of an animal, into or beyond the genital organs or anus of another person; or
(c) the genital organs of an animal, into or beyond the mouth of another person

Facts about rape in South Africa

Every day in South Africa, about 150 women open a rape case at SAPS. Less than 30 instances will be brought to justice, and no more than ten cases will end in convictions. This results in a 4% to 8% conviction rate for all reported rape cases in South Africa.

The latest crime statistics have shown a 9.8% increase, with 12 419 reported rape cases between October and December 2022. This means that every 10 minutes, a rape case is reported in South Africa.

Anti-GBV Organisations believe that only every 25th woman reports their rape case to SAPS, which means that between 2017 and 2022, more than 5.5 Million people have been raped in South Africa.

Why do a lot of rape cases go unreported?

One of the most significant issues with rape culture is that it adversely affects survivors receiving justice.

Many victims feel that family, friends, or SAPS won’t believe them. Society still blames the victims for being raped because they were intoxicated, wearing skimpy clothing or because of their sexual orientation. The truth is, the victim is never at fault.

Many law enforcement agencies regard victims differently due to these normalised views, which affects how they analyse rape kits and conduct investigations.

Consequently, this has a domino effect since a victim may believe that the case will be dismissed from court for lack of evidence or that the rapist will receive a lighter penalty.

GBV Statistics in South Africa back it up;

  • 90% of rapes go unreported to the authorities.
  • Less than 50% of the recorded cases will result in an arrest.
  • 15% of those accused are brought to trial. And less than 5% of rapists are found guilty.
  • More than 15% of convicted rapists receive sentences under the minimum requirement of ten years in prison.
  • More than 40% of rapists found guilty are eligible for life imprisonment.
  • Fewer than 9% of people deserving of a life sentence receive one.

If you want to report a rape case and do not know where to start. Please read our article that supports survivors of rape to get the correct information and support when opening a case. Find more details here!

If you are a survivor of domestic violence and you need support, please reach out to the following: