THERE are innumerable cases in which rapists got away with their misdeeds, just as there are cases in which false charges led to the convictions of innocent men, along with inadequately investigated, incompetently tried cases and wrongful convictions rendered due to lack of technology to test evidence.
Nevertheless, the above doesn’t provide an excuse to treat as a liar a woman who says she was raped years earlier but never reported it.
The reason is simple – without witnesses and/ or other forms of evidence, the truth is known only to the complainant and the respondent. This means society at large does not know and can only speculate until a charge is laid, the case is investigated and, if warranted, tried in a court of law.
In South Africa’s case, all of the above applies along with thousands of complaints about incompetent or disinterested cops, unhelpful medical, legal and family systems which deny victims support.
When society has clear evidence of a widespread problem which is further exacerbated by failure of law enforcement agencies, it becomes incumbent upon every good member of society to support those who are defenceless or in need of help.
Therefore, based on what was reported in the media, David Bullard’s comments vis-a-vis Michelle Solomon’s attempt to ask whether she ought to “out” her alleged rapist on social media platforms, are ungentlemanly, callous, and insulting to every human being who has ever been assaulted, abused or raped, including Solomon.
If anything, he should have said: “No, don’t accuse him on Twitter. First seek legal counsel. If you can’t afford it, go to a university law clinic. Consider what you are advised and either go to the police to open a case, or stop further action because public accusations without proof may lead to lawsuits over crimen injuria.”
One day, this will come back to haunt us, because real people’s lives are affected.
M Negres, Port Elizabeth