Rape stats deceptive due to under-reporting

Police figures show more than 66,000 rape incidents were reported over the 2012/2013 year.

The SA Medical Research Council says rape stats are inaccurate and possibly deceptive as many go unreported.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Medical Research Council has warned rape statistics are inaccurate and may be deceptive, as many sexual assaults go unreported.

It's been almost a year since teenager Anene Booysen was mutilated, raped and left for dead in Bredasdorp.

Police figures show more than 66,000 rape incidents were reported over the 2012/2013 financial year.

The Medical Research Council says while it is concerned about the prevalence of rape countrywide, it warns under-reporting is an even bigger problem.

Professor Naeemah Abrahams says the scourge of under-reporting takes place countrywide.

"We find that one in 25 women who reported that they were a victim of rape also reported it to police."

She says, "Women often think it was their fault, that they are to blame and therefore do not report it."

Abrahams is encouraging women to speak out more often.

Police figures show as many as 140 women are raped in South Africa each day.

One non-government organisation championing women's rights believes current rape statistics may double, if all offences were reported.

The Women's Legal Centre says law enforcement officials are only dealing with a fraction of the actual number of sexual assaults committed.

Eyewitness News spoke to the organisation ahead of weekend vigils in Bredasdorp commemorating Booysen's life.

Statistics reveal six women are raped in South Africa every hour. This adds up to about 144 cases daily.

Although these figures are lower than the statistics recorded during preceding years, the centre warns it doesn't paint an accurate picture.

The centre's attorney Sanja Bornman says if all rape incidents were reported to police, annual rape statistics may double to exceed 120,000.

Meanwhile, Delft community members continue to rally around the family of a nine-year-old girl who was raped, set alight and left for dead.

The victim remains in a critical but stable condition after her attack, which took place earlier this month.

She is expected to undergo several surgeries.

The man charged with the crime appeared in the Bellville Magistrates Court on Tuesday where he abandoned his bail application.

The public outcry following the brutal attack continued outside the court on Tuesday.

A small crowd, led by the ANC Women's League, held banners with a statement saying: "There's no excuse for abuse."