Emotions ran high in the Durban High Court as the trial of the man accused of raping 28 women in 2013 was adjourned until next month.
Although it has been more than seven years since the women were raped, the trauma was still a fresh memory for them when they arrived at court this week.
The victims came to court over two days for their statements to be taken in preparation for the trial.
The 34-year-old man, who cannot be named until he pleads in court, was known to some of the victims.
They were supported by friends and family as well as their community who voiced their anger about the rate of rape incidents in their area.
They called for nothing less than life imprisonment for each of the 28 counts.
It is alleged that in 2013, the 28 victims, including minor girls, were raped in Klaarwater, KwaSanti and Ekuphumeleleni in Mariannhill.
Investigations had led the police to one man, with the conclusion that the 28 cases were the work of a serial rapist.
Some of the women were targeted on their way to and from work, others lived alone and minor children had been sent on errands or to shops.
One of the victims, a 40-year-old mother of two, cried when she spoke about the trauma she is still going through, years after the incident.
She was at home, sleeping, and woke to find a man in her room. Threatened with a knife she was allegedly repeatedly raped.
She said no amount of counselling has assisted her to get over the violation she experienced that night.
“The incident changed my life forever. I was once a happy woman, a proud mother who worked hard to provide for her children.
“I have never been able to work again to provide for my kids. The images of what happened to me is all I think of. I spend my days and nights in my room. I am on medication for heart and mental illnesses I developed after the rape incident. I have tried to commit suicide many times. I struggle to sleep at night,” she said.
She thanked the police officers who had worked on the case to prove that this was the work of a serial rapist.
“I have met other women who were also allegedly raped by the same man. I am angry. I want justice. I want to be normal again so I can take care of my kids,” she said.
Abahlali BaseMjondolo Women’s League deputy secretary Joyce Majola called on the government to provide psychological support for the victims.
“We will monitor this case closely in order to hold our government to account when it comes to the abuse of women.
“We are tired of being victims. We want a new life, a life where women are safe and respected,” she said.