Singer Simphiwe Dana has slammed the justice system after she was threatened with arrest because her allegedly abusive former fiancé, who she identified as Leshoto Itsweng, laid counter charges of assault and crime injuria against her. Decrying what she called the revictimization of women who had been abused, Dana said she was locked in a cell with other women whose abusers had also laid counter-charges against them.
She also questioned how men accused of assaulting their partners are allowed to lay counter-charges against them, saying that this was a known intimidation tactic designed to get the women to drop their charges. On December 27 last year Itsweng allegedly assaulted Dana, and three days later, on December 30, she laid assault charges against him at the Norwood police station. On the same day she revealed the details of the assault on social media.
In the Instagram post, Dana alleges that he spat in her face, strangled her and threatened to slit her throat. She said he also warned her against going to the police, claiming that “his friend in the police force runs the province”. On January 13, Dana was informed by police that Itsweng had laid counter-charges against her. In response she handed herself over to police on January 16 and was briefly detained in the holding cells at Norwood Police Station. The prosecutor has declined to prosecute Dana but will continue pursuing the case against
The award-winning musician released a statement on Friday describing her ordeal. 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 Friday’s 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 countercharges 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? Dana also shared photographs on Twitter of herself with friends who had supported her after her ordeal.
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