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Survivors tell of horrific gang rape that enraged South Africa

On the morning of July 28, eight teenage models were excited to go on a film shoot. They had been out of work for a long time due to the coronavirus outbreak, and they had been chosen to appear in a music video.

The pay was low—they worked almost for nothing—but it wasn’t the money that attracted them; it was luck. This may be the opportunity they’ve been waiting for, when their careers finally take off.

However, there was no fortuitous rupture. Instead, it was to be the darkest day of their lives.

South Africa is at odds with its women. He has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world, and on this July day eight more names were added to the long list of survivors.

Four of the young girls who bravely told their tragic stories were introduced to me. Their mothers were by their side, holding back their tears as they listened to their daughters recount the terrible incident. To protect their identities, CBS News has changed their names at their request.

The 22-person film crew was filming in an abandoned mine in Krugersdorp, near Johannesburg. As they finished filming the last scene, a gang of armed men invaded the set and ordered everyone to lie down, according to sisters Bontle and Amanda. When one of the sisters was too upset to speak, the sisters often complemented each other’s words.

Illegal miners are apprehended by police in Krugersdorp, South Africa.

Authorities raid to apprehend illegal mine workers on August 3, 2022 in Krugersdorp, South Africa, after a group of gunmen raped eight women recording a movie at an underutilized mine in the area .

GETTY/FANI MAHUNTSI/GALLO IMAGES

“Some of us tried to run away,” Bontle, 19, said. “But, you know, we couldn’t because they were shooting.”

“And there were men everywhere,” her older sister Amanda said. “They were growing, maybe 15 or more.”

The assailants surrounded the victims, forcing them to lie face down in a deep hole while wearing hoods. The male crew members were stripped naked and imprisoned in another location.

First, everyone’s phones and money were stolen. Then there were the rapes. According to the ladies, the assailants alternately tortured and brutalized the eight women for more than three hours before fleeing.

“Some of the girls and I were crying. They were also screaming while being raped,” Bontle said.

“And the second, they raped her in front of our eyes,” Amanda added.

If the ladies did not participate, the men threatened to shoot them.

“Telling me he’d kill me and all that nonsense if I didn’t listen to him,” Amanda recalled. “So I’m like, let me do whatever he says because I have no choice. Then he led me there, like…into the pit.

At that point, she broke down crying, unable to continue, her eyes wide with fear and unable to utter the words as she remembered how they tried to bury her alive.

Bontle was dragged to another location and raped twice. She thought she was going to die when a third man approached her.

“I saw that he was planning to rape me. Then I said, ‘I’m bleeding, I can’t.’ I pretended to have a miscarriage.

They took her back to the hole and then abandoned her.

While the ladies were attacked, Zintle managed to climb a tree and hide for about an hour. When she heard no more, she jumped off, only to be grabbed and raped by one of the men.

Then there was Anita, the leader of the group and the one who had recruited her friends for the filming of the film. She now suffers crippling remorse, blaming herself for what happened. She begged the guys to kidnap her instead of her buddies.

“I was basically begging them not to touch any of the women,” she said. “If it has to be me, it has to be me.”

No one was spared and she was repeatedly gang-raped.

He rekindled old wounds for Anita. She told CBS News that she was raped as a child. Then there is this.

“But now that it’s happening again, I wonder why I’m even on this planet. Is it my destiny to become a rape victim? And every time I tried to build something wonderful, it just came back and started…” She couldn’t go on. Her heartbreaking tears filled the room.

When their attackers left, the bruised and broken ladies rushed straight to the police station to report the crimes. They were then raped a second time when their names and addresses were published on social media. Anita was heartbroken.

“I thought, why didn’t I just die? I mean, what’s the point? You did it again. You have already murdered me and taken away my innocence and my purity. And now you want to destroy me physically, to the point that I can’t even go out for a break without everyone in my neighborhood seeing me, seeing my irritation, knowing that I’m not okay.

This nation usually remembers the courageous battle of South African women against apartheid in August. But there hasn’t been much to celebrate lately. It has become a month of heartbreak. Across the country, a woman is raped roughly every 12 minutes – and those are the only ones reported to the police.

Outside the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court, South Africans demonstrate against illegal immigrants.

Members of the African National Congress protest outside Krugersdorp Magistrates’ Court on August 3, 2022 in Krugersdorp, South Africa, after an armed gang raped eight women who were filming a video.

However, this horrific gang rape pushed a nation already scarred by gender-based violence to the brink. This has sparked criticism and protests against what many see as incompetent, even clumsy police.

According to reports, the suspects in the incident did not speak any South African language. More than 120 men have been apprehended by police, all of whom are in the country illegally. No one has been charged with rape. Authorities said they will analyze their DNA to determine if it matches evidence collected from the victims.

Illegal miners are apprehended by police in Krugersdorp, South Africa.

Authorities carry out a raid to apprehend illegal mining workers at an abandoned mine in Krugersdorp, South Africa, on August 3, 2022, after an armed gang raped and robbed eight women recording video in the area.

Lisa Vetton, a researcher with the Gendered Violence and Urban Transformation project at the University of Johannesburg, says the criminal justice system is failing women.

“You can really see over the last decade how the number of rapes that get convicted, that get prosecuted, has gone down,” she told CBS News. “If you consider that – and it goes hand in hand with the terrible treatment the police give you – there’s no reason to report. Why put this on yourself when there’s no assurance you’ll ever see justice ?

Outside the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court, South Africans demonstrate against illegal immigrants.

ActionSA activists demonstrate outside the Krugersdorp Magistrates’ Court on August 3, 2022 in Krugersdorp, South Africa, after a group of armed men brutally gang-raped eight women who were filming a video.

The young women interviewed by CBS News have been living in dread since the tragedy. Anita says she wakes up every night feeling that “someone was holding my arm and I smelled one of the men raping me”.

They claim they jump every time they hear gunshots and fear that now that their identity has been exposed, their attackers will want to be punished.

“We really don’t know what to do anymore because we’re terrified of our lives — not just our lives, but the lives of our families, because we’re all not safe today,” Bontle added.

For them, like many women in South Africa, the emotional scars remain long after the physical wounds have healed.