She was sentenced to 12 months in jail or pay a fine of R500.
A Johannesburg woman has entered the fray, blaming the South African government in defence of a 20-year-old Vosman woman who was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment – on 2 July 2020 – for making up false rape claims against a man with whom she had consented to have sex, saying the way the system treats poor women is not fair.
32-year-old Palesa Motau said she read the story of Thembekile Sigwili with awe as she had to choose between falling pregnant and going to jail.
The 20-year-old Sigwili was sentenced by the eMalahleni Magistrates Court on 2 July 2020 after having unprotected sex with the man on 24 November 2019 and then lied to police the following morning about having been raped by him in order to get free Morning-After pills to prevent herself from falling pregnant.
The Morning-After pill is sold for R100 at South African pharmacies but is given free of charge at public hospitals to rape victims…
Motau said she wanted to pay the R500 fine for Sigwili in solidarity with her plight but found out that she had already paid.
She said she doesn’t “understand the reason why these pills are not available for free”.
“So far our government has not prioritised women’s sexual health and that’s a fact we should all face,” Motau said when she to the 013NEWS reporter.
“It’s very easy for people out there to look at this story and think, ‘Ahh, Morning-After pills are only R100 but the reality is having a R100 in this country is a privilege and having access to information is an even bigger privilege,” she said, adding that the problem with the South African system is that it “hates poor people”.
Police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said Sigwili was charged with “perjury” – the crime of giving a false statement to police or the state.
All information given to police or the courts is given under oath, and a charge of perjury arises when this is found to be false, breaching the oath.
Hlathi said when Sigwili laid the charge of rape against the man on 25 November 2019 at the Vosman police station she was taken to hospital for DNA evidence and then given medication that would help her not get HIV as well as fall pregnant.
The cops then dashed straight to arrest the man who allegedly raped her.
Later the cops found out the 20-year-old Sigwili was actually lying…
“We found evidence that showed that the woman had gone to the man’s house to visit him and also voluntarily left the house.”
“She said she went to the man’s house voluntarily and had unprotected sex with him and was worried about falling pregnant, so she went to the police and made up a false rape case because she knew she would be taken to hospital and be given free Morning-After pills which would prevent pregnancy,” said Hlathi.
Motau said she doesn’t condone her nor think what she did was a good decision “but we must remember that realising your mistakes is always 50/50”.
“We can’t be a society that ignores those people who are less fortunate than us and insist on punishing them when they do what needs to be done to live. It would be very easy to say why did she have sex but is that really a question?
“Are we going to now say poor people shouldn’t have sex?
“And I also don’t think somebody who went to such extremes to not fall pregnant didn’t mention a condom to the guy.
“I’m going to assume the cops didn’t ask the man she slept with this question. Why didn’t he use a condom to protect her from falling pregnant?” Motau said.
She said relationships were influenced by “power dynamics” – and which favour men, who decide whether or not to use a condom.
“We can’t continue to live our lives as if we don’t know that patriarchy permeates in every sphere of our lives.
“Although it’s easier for us to believe that good decisions make a difference in helping people out of their situations but good decisions in a messed up situation do nothing, especially when the system wasn’t created with the aim of protecting and uplifting you,” Motau said.
(edited by ZK)
Send tip-offs to [email protected]