Assault unfortunate casualty executed before family in Gauteng home
Johannesburg – “She was never prepared for half of what she went through, but she got through it. She always will. She is me.”
These are the foreboding and almost prophetic last words posted by Kutlwano Masilo on Facebook a few hours before she was shot and killed by an unknown man in full view of her family.
Kutlwano, a gang-rape victim, was killed last month in her home in Etwatwa, a week after her second court attendance for the incident that occurred on February 19, 2017.
One of her rape accused was arrested a year after the incident, and shortly thereafter, Kutlwano’s mother, Madikgang Masilo, began receiving threatening calls instructing her to tell her daughter to drop the charges or risk being killed.
“He said if I love my family, we must not go through with the case,” said Masilo, adding that they recorded the threats and presented the recording in court as evidence and the magistrate had cautioned the accused saying if anything happened to Kutlwano or her family, he would be held accountable.
This week, Masilo spoke of the heavy pain she carries with her after witnessing her daughter being murdered in cold bold by an unknown assailant. The man, she explained, arrived at their home that fateful evening demanding to see Kutlwano.
“Kutlwano demanded to know who the man was and also chided me for calling her to see strangers. She said to me ‘one day you’ll call me only for me to get killed’. And that was when the gunman pulled out his gun and shot her eight times.
“After shooting Kutlwano, he pointed the gun at me, and I ran back inside the house. My daughter was killed like a dog, and I can’t get over that,” she said.
Kutlwano’s uncle, Lucky Maebane, who was in the house withher grandparents, said the gunman casually walked away from the scene to a car that was parked almost 100 metres away and lit a cigarette before getting in the car and fleeing.
“It doesn’t even take a rocket scientist to see that these two incidents are linked. That man is an inkabi (a hired assassin), he knew exactly what his assignment was, and that was to kill my niece,” said Maebane.
“The streets were busy, but it seemed like people were under a spell because no one did anything to stop him,” he said, adding that this way of silencing rape victims had become common in Etwatwa.
“This is definitely the end. It will go down as another cold case because police won’t find him,” he said in despair.
Gauteng’s police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela said in cases of intimidation, protection is always offered to the victim.
“The intimidated person needs to report that to the police and bring it to the attention of courts, and they will be able to take action by giving the victim protection,” he said.
Rise Up Against GBV’s Mandisa Khanyile said the law does not protect rape victim in South Africa because safe houses “are only open to high-profile cases like espionage and hardly for GBV cases.”
“Shelters are supposed to be alternatives and be in secret locations, but you can’t live in a shelter until a case is concluded because an average shelter stay in the country is four months while it takes three years to conclude an average court case, leaving victims in danger,” said Khanyile.
“What we’ve also found is that when the media asks victims to share their stories during Women’s month or the 16-Days of Activism, most of those survivors end up being threatened by their perpetrators, if not physically assaulted. And the media does not provide any protection to them.”
She shared two such cases, one where a GBV survivor was kicked out by her husband after sharing her story, and a second one was discovered by the perpetrator and assaulted at her house.
The solution, according to Khanyile, is to strengthen the justice system to be functional.
“There are so many ways that the criminal justice system should be protecting survivors, but because it is dysfunctional, cases slip through the cracks,” she said.