by NORMAN CLOETE
Cape Town – She did what she did every day: take a taxi to and from work. Eerste River to Bellville was her daily routine. But one afternoon, all that changed for a young mother who was raped in a taxi outside a mall.
Kelly, whose identity is being withheld, is an assistant teacher at a preschool in Bellville and spoke about her ordeal and being accosted at gunpoint.
“We were only three people in the taxi when the driver asked the guy where he was going as the taxi we’re in was no longer going to Kuils River. The driver said the taxi needed water and that he was taking a quicker route home,” said Kelly.
But that drive home was the longest of her life. Instead, Kelly and her colleague were driven to Kuils River, Mitchells Plain and Vangate Mall.
“We were separated in the taxi; my friend was forced to sit in front with the driver and I was in the back with the “gaatjie”. They demanded our cellphones and jewellery and any cash we had. They also took my bank card,” she said.
Kelly said both the driver and the gaatjie were not able to operate any of the ATMs they stopped at and needed to find a Capitec ATM.
During the ride, the two men kept asking the young women if they had children, had sex and if they did they would be “used” to what was coming.
Kelly also remembers that the gaatjie smoked mandrax in the taxi and offered it to her as well, which she refused.
“Even though I didn’t smoke I recognised the smell. I could feel my head spinning as they had shut all the windows and there was no fresh air in the taxi,” she said.
They eventually stopped at Vangate Mall, where Kelly’s colleague was forced to accompany the driver to an ATM. This was when the gaatjie demanded that Kelly remove her pants. She refused and he pulled her by her hair, removed his pants as well as hers and raped her in the taxi.
“I just went blank. I do not know how long it lasted; I just know it took a long time,” she said.
When the driver and her colleague returned, he gave the ATM slip to Kelly, but in her state of shock she did not look at it at the time. She only learnt later that they cleared R3300 from her account.
“I remember that the driver even suggested that the four of us go play slot machines at GrandWest,” she recalled. Kelly and her colleague were dropped off somewhere near Voortrekker Road.
“The driver gave us R100 for taxi fare and even apologised for what he did, saying he did not have a choice,” she said.
“I told my friend that there was no way we could take another taxi. We walked to a car dealership, where I explained to two men what had happened.
“They allowed me to use their cellphone to call my brother and they took us to the Goodwood police station to report what had happened,” she said.
At the police station, Kelly was told she needed to report the matter at the Bellville police station.
She is filled with remorse for her decisions on that Tuesday afternoon and still wonders if she is somehow to blame for anything that happened. What if she had taken another taxi, perhaps? Kelly was given antiretrovirals and a morning-after pill and she is receiving trauma counselling.
She has returned to work, a week after the rape, even though she was booked off from work for a month.
“My boss agreed that I could come back. At least I am busy at work and so I don’t think about it. I do have trouble sleeping, I have nightmares and I take tablets to help me sleep.
“It’s hard now, but I know I will be whole again,” she said.
Kelly enjoys massive support from her family, partner and colleagues and admitted that she was now very fearful. Even being interviewed by a male reporter was difficult for her. A stranger and a man. But for Kelly, the reality is that she has to take a taxi twice daily. She doesn’t have a choice.
“In the morning it’s okay, but in the afternoon I just start shaking,” she said.
Kelly said she was satisfied with the way police officers had treated her and spoke highly of the care she received at Karl Bremer Hospital. According to Kelly, police have identified the driver of the taxi from CCTV footage from the withdrawal at the ATM.
Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association spokesperson, Andile Semayo has condemned the incident and has encouraged Kelly to visit the Bellville Interchange to report the driver.
Police spokesperson Siyabulela Malo confirmed that a case of rape was being investigated by the Kuils River SAPS and that no arrests had been made.