Our take: When the system works

Women in GBV-related cases notoriously face secondary victimisation and are denied justice when they pursue the legal route. 

But in the past week, there have been two important court victories in GBV-related cases. 

1. Last week, Ntuthuko Shoba was found guilty of the murder of his then heavily pregnant girlfriend, Tshegofatso Pule, in June 2020. The turnaround from the time of the murder to conviction was heartening. As journalist Mandy Wiener wrote: “In less than two years, a suspect was arrested, a key State witness was secured, a deal was done, and evidence was led in court, which ultimately led to a successful prosecution.” Thanks to stellar work by the National Prosecuting Authority and investigators working under the watchful eye of the media, Shoba will most likely face jail time.

2. A judgment by the Western Cape High Court last week affirmed the right of a GBV survivor to speak out about her acknowledged rape. The model came out on Twitter outing her rapist in 2019. Her rapist hauled her to court, arguing her claims were defamatory and were costing his business. A magistrate court found in his favour, stripping her of the right to speak out. But last week’s high court judgement found that the woman had the right to name her perpetrator. Judge Robert Henney said: “The probabilities overwhelmingly favour [her] version, which is that [he] had admitted that he had the raped her … and apologised. She was therefore justified to call him a rapist. 

“There was no need for her to lay a charge against him and to have him prosecuted and convicted to be labelled as a rapist, based on the evidence of this case.” 

These judgments are great indicators that while things may be bad in the criminal justice system, there are glimmers of hope. As Wiener wrote in response to the Tshegofatso Pule case: “For now, we must acknowledge this case has shown us what is possible when everything works. When there is good solid police work, when there are capable and passionate prosecutors. And when the criminal justice system delivers justice. Imagine if every victim received that kind of justice. It is possible. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 31 March  2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.