Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Male-on-male rape in prisons and police cells

Once again we are waking up to find that a man has been raped while being held in police custody. Worse he was in the holding cells at Graaff-Reinet police station rather than the local prison where it is not as easy to keep prisoners under scrutiny all the time.

According to Inspector Mornay Van Eck of the Graaff-Reinet police station, the rape took place around 1.30am in the early hours of this morning. Apparently 4 men had been arrested for alleged drunkenness and were placed in the same cell.

Nothing wrong with that per se.

Where the police fall down is that in many instances everyone is simply thrown into a holding cell and then left to their own devices. This incident was discovered a while later by their hourly patrol. If there was proper monitoring by camera or audio it would not be so easy or desirable to add a possible life sentence to your drunk-driving charge.

Once discovered the 37-year-old man was removed from the cell leaving the other 3 in custody. The victim was not taken to hospital and an investigation into the attack has been opened.

Rape and other sex crimes by prisoners is not — despite what the public thinks — peculiar to South Africa. It is a worldwide phenomena and is as prevalent in other countries as it is here.

In Australia for example WA Today reported on a study conducted on the prisoners in just the Perth area.

It is an eye-opener and unfortunately highlights the grim lack of determination to stamp out male-on-male rape.

Many people simply believe that it is some kind of additional punishment merited by anyone unfortunate enough to land up in prison.

In essence that if you find yourself being jailed for a year for fraud, being raped is just some kind of occupational hazard.

Moreover that men can’t be raped (morally — not legally) “because they have such strong sex drives”.

Whatever the reason for the dilatory approach to dealing with it, the time to start stamping it out in our prisons and police stations is long overdue.

A couple of life sentences for that charge in addition to whatever other offences they may have committed will soon give prisoners a real reason to consider their actions before trying it on.

  • Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Thought Leader » Michael Trapido » Male-on-male rape in prisons and police cells [thoughtleader.co.za] on Topsy.com()

  • sanjay

    couldn’t agree with you more. male on male rape is an appalling crime, whether committed in or out of prison.

    i hope you reserve as much moral outrage for other crimes of rape. there are no degrees of comparison. it’s all bad.

  • Paul

    Sanjay , Sould that not be , RAPE is an appalling crime , Not just MALE on MALE rape .. Does it hit a bit close to home when you feel that you are also vulnarable to such crimes . Imagine how women feel ..

  • Paul B

    Mr Trapido, why bring Perth into this, and you will find the WA Today report was on Prisoners in Prison, not people arrested for drunk driving and put in Police holding cells. By the way I spent a very uncomfortable 8 hours one Sunday afternoon in the Dieepkloof Police Station holding cells, my crime not having my drivers licence on me when stopped at a road block (near the show grounds). My wife managed to get me out before nightfall, at a cost of R10,000 otherwise I would have met the same fate or worse.
    Thankfully one reside in Perth.

  • Rick

    The police cannot even stop people in cages from being raped, whilst in their custody – now how the hell are they going to prevent any crimes on the streets?

    Police are criminals – they are complicit in most crimes in this country.

  • Hugh Robinson

    Baring the seriousness of the crime I am pretty sure that guy has learned the results of being Drunk and hopefully have learned from this experience.

    Now about the charge of Rape. Why was he not taken to the district surgeon?

  • Foom

    @Hugh Robinson

    It’s appalling that you can insinuate that being raped is an appropriate deterrent.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/traps Michael Trapido

    Paul – I brought an excellent article about rape in prisons – which happens to be about Perth – into the discussion.

    If you look at the heading you’ll see it is about prisons as well.

    Hugh – He most definitely should have been taken.

    I hate to say this but they have more chance of proving that I am hiding bin Laden than getting a conviction without medical evidence.

  • Andre de Villiers

    Nobody even mentions the real risk: AIDS!

  • http://aol Grant Montgomery

    The victim will surely be able to sue the police?
    I hope he doesn’t end up with aids.

    I was bust for being over the limit in 94. Spent the night and next day in germiston police cell and hated every second.
    In retospect, I had a good time. Pizzas and cokes brought in; playing cards and exchanging stories. There were only whites in my cell so maybe that makes the difference.

  • Dumi

    Whether it is male-male or male-female, or female raping a male, rape can never be justified. It is one of the worst personal violations any human being can ever exoperience.
    Police holdig cells are supposed to be safe, to cool you off before you’re charged or bailed out etc. But they are not safe. Prisons are known globally to be often breeding places for harder and more violent criminals. There are a few exceptions though, too few and far between, where hardened criminals are reformed and transformed.

    Traps, from your experience in the legal fraternity, what are the levels of rape and other sexual crimes in our prisons, and how do we compare to other places (please not Perth!)?

  • tones

    life sentences are no deterrent to someone who already has many – In the cape the gangs call the shots inside – they can rape and murder at will – and do so all the time, as sex and violence go hand in hand down here in the land of the numbers gangs. . . the system is corrupt and rotten – you have to wonder when wardens ‘feed’ more powerful gangsters with the tasty young boys.

  • sanjay

    @paul my point was that all rape is reprehensible, not only male-on-male rape. i find that men tend to get more upset about notions of male-on-male rape (homophobia perhaps?) than any other form of rape.

  • http://www.richmarksentinal.co.za lyndall Beddy

    At least Nelson Mandela and his pals were given single cells on Robben Island. They were looked after a lot better than they are looking after prisoners today.

    There are more deaths in custody in one year now than there were in the whole 40 years of apartheid.

    And there are still 3000 prisoners claiming to be political prisoners (members of PAC and IFP and therefore opposition to the ANC) which Amnesty International has made some faint pathetic squeaks about.

  • Mandy

    “There were only whites in my cell so maybe that makes the difference.” @ Grant Montgomery – what has race got to do with anything? Are you implying that male on male rape is a non-white “thing”? According to the documentaries I have seen on TV or read in reports/research done, male on male rape is common – not just in SA but in prisons worldwide. Colour is irrelevant. I do agree that this should not be viwed as an “occupational hazzard” – after all, how many innocent people have been held on remand pending trial? More should be done to prevent this happening and to protect those who are affected.

  • Ronnie Herbert

    Male prison rape in the modern South African context often has racist dynamics; this must be considered with respect to appropriate cell assignment (in addition to age, criminal background, etc).

    These two articles demonstrate how male rape in police holding cells manifests as a racial hate crime:

    Jail Rape of White South African Men a War Crime

    Afrikaner Lawyer Threatened with Racist Cell Rape

  • Johan

    Wake up people! If you thought all members of the SAPS are of high moral fibre, you made the biggest mistake in your life. The whole judicial system is rotten to the core. Everybody knows about prison rape but the wardens do not??? It is as system to punish an offender without lifting a finger. It is said: get ourself a lover adn you would not get abused. Viva South Africa – corrupt to the core everywhere.