Johannesburg – More than 80 people arrested following a gang-rape of eight South African women appeared before a court on Monday, as the police minister described the assault as the “shame of the nation”.
A gang of gunmen forced their way into a music video shoot near a mine dump in Krugersdorp, a small town west of Johannesburg, on Thursday.
Eight young women from the cast were raped in an incident that has shocked the nation, which is usually used to violent crime.
“What happened in Krugersdorp is just a shame of the nation,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a press briefing on Monday, adding some of the victims would suffer long-term consequences.
“Some of those destructions are permanent with those kids,” he said.
The gang attacked the crew and cast while they were offloading equipment and preparing the set, according to police.
Police have blamed illegal immigrants working in mines – known locally as Zama Zama – and arrested 84 people during a swoop in the area.
Two more suspects were killed in a shoot-out with police and a third one was wounded and taken to a local hospital, police said.
On Monday, those held started to appear before a court on charges of entering the country illegally and possessing stolen goods.
National police chief Fannie Masemola said a probe would establish if the suspects were linked to the rape.
No one has been charged as yet over the gang-rape.
A small group of demonstrators gathered outside the court demanding swift justice.
Some held signs reading “no bail for rapists”, “am I next” and “my body is not a crime scene”, according to an AFP journalist.
The incident has fuelled an ongoing debate on whether to introduce chemical castration for rapists.
It has also piled pressure on Cele, with critics contending law enforcement agencies are ill-equipped to tackle crime in the country, which has some of the highest murder rates in the world and has recently been hit by a spate of deadly shootings.
In his Monday weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the “horrible acts of brutality are an affront to the right of women and girls to live and work in freedom and safety” as he declared that “rapists have no place in our society”.