JOHANNESBURG – Award-winning South African musician Simphiwe Dana has on Friday described her ordeal after being arrested for assault and crimen injuria after her ex-fiance laid a counter criminal charge.
Dana's fiance allegedly assaulted her on 27 December. She laid a charge of assault and intimidation at the Norwood police station on 30 December and posted details of the assault on her social media platform.
Dana said she had been threatened by the man, whom she revealed as Leshoto Itsweng, against going to the police.
On Monday, 13 January, police opened a charge of assault and crimen injuria against Dana after informing her that she would be arrested and imprisoned, as Itsweng had laid a counter-charge.
She subsequently handed herself over at the Norwood police station on 16 January and was incarcerated in the holding cells.
“My experience has been a disturbing revelation about how the criminal justice system can be manipulated to re-victimise and harass victims of intimate-partner abuse," Dana said in a statement.
"There appears to be an increasing trend of abusers laying counter-assault charges against their victims as an intimidation tactic. The cell I was held in bears testament to this – it was full of domestic violence survivors whose partners had laid counter-charges.
"This, as the abusers well know, has the immediate effect of bullying victims into dropping the charges against their assailants. The swiftness with which the police respond to the counter-charges by imprisoning the survivor serves to perpetuate inequality and re-victimisation. As things stand, pressing counter-charges is increasingly being used as a weapon to intimidate women into dropping charges. In a society where violence against women is such a scourge, surely this merits some kind of review?"
The prosecutor has since declined to prosecute the case against Dana, while she said she would pursue her case against Itsweng.