Raping a woman: one man’s story

Dumisani Rebombo “When I was fifteen years old,I look part in a gang rape”

One in four South African men has raped a woman, according to a survey out this month. It’s a saddening, but not suprising statistic for Dumisani Rebombo to learn. When he was fifteen, he joined in the gang rape of a woman, under pressure from his friends to prove that he was ‘a man’. Dumisani has written about the experience for the BBC website. Read his story here.
Now 49, Dumisani has gone back and apologised to his victim, and works as a community development worker in South Africa trying to stop the sorts of violence he once inflicted. He has agreed to come on the programme next week for an hour. What would you like to ask him or say to him?

26 Responses to “Raping a woman: one man’s story”

  1. 1 Jennifer
    June 29, 2009 at 13:25

    I’d like you ask:

    I’d like to know what is being done in South Africa to raise awareness about rape in communities; particularly with boys/men.

    Do you feel that apologizing for raping someone makes the act ok? Are there programs for rape survivors there?

    Is there a connection between rape and the spread of STDs such as AIDS and pregnancy? What are those statistics?


  2. 2 anu_D
    June 29, 2009 at 13:44

    Every one in 4 men in South Africa is rapist!

    It is so sensational to publish….as it makes for a tingling, “goose-bumping” read.

    Did BBC bother to verify the accuracy of the survey before publishing this???…..
    And hence offering credibility to this item by publishing??

    Merely satisfying that the survey came from a known agency isn’t enough…when the outcome is so sensationally damning.

    Can you please for the benefit of the readers post the “sampling parameters” of the survey so that we can decide on how representative this is??

    I heard in one report that the sample size was small and over a limited back-ward/ rural pocket area in SA.

    How has such a small sample been extrapolated to declare 1 in 4 South Africa is a rapist would be incredibly interesting??

    Has BBC or even the surveying agency accounted for the rural “machismo-bragging” factor responsible for claims of raping when they respondents had done nothing or far less than rape???

    Just like teenaged boys in school “brag” of having had sex long before they have done it !!!

    anu_D in Kuwait

  3. 3 patti in cape coral
    June 29, 2009 at 13:48

    Mr. Rebombo – I have read a lot of comments where people think you should have turned yourself in. I just wonder, if you did that, does the victim have to press charges, or can they bring charges up soley on your confession?

    I think it had to be very hard to face your victim and ask forgiveness, and I think what happens next should be up to the victim, whether she presses charges or not. If your victim chose to forgive, that should be that. From what I understand, though, the penalties for rape are minimal, or minimally enforced.

  4. 4 Ann
    June 29, 2009 at 14:45

    When I saw the results of the survey about rape in south Africa, I was shaken to the core. To think that this can happen in 2009.

    I think it takes a lot of courage to do what Dumisani has done. He did a terrible thing, but he is trying to make it right.

    But his victim’s capacity for forgiveness is even more remarkable.

    And I would like to hear ‘one woman’s story’ too…

  5. 5 John in Germany
    June 29, 2009 at 14:47

    A girl is deprived of the choice of the man she wishes to have, to give-(according to many) the treasure of her life to. She is in a short time, in some communities turned into an outsider, she is deprived in others of the chance of ever having a loving relationship, in others she could even be stoned to death through no fault of her own.. Parents have turned against their own daughters, when being raped by a family member, on the principle(she must have enticed him).

    Come on BEEB do you really think an apology is the answer to her problems. It would not help her Psychologically, but id found guilty the men should be made to support her for the rest of her life, with no let up. Gang rape being the most perverse of any rape, satisfying voyeurs who will be hyped up to join in. Normal Men would be sick in the gut at the thought, let alone participation.

    Of course over the years a rapist can repent, but he cant give back what the girl has lost.

    John in Germany.

  6. 6 Ann
    June 29, 2009 at 15:03

    But the one question I would like to ask Dumisani…

    He said that rape happens because of… “machismo feelings and beliefs, coupled with patriarchal processes and tendencies”.

    Does he feel that these processes and feelings are entirely learned behaviour, or does he feel that there may be an element of instinctive male desire to have power over a woman?

  7. 7 Denise in Chicago
    June 29, 2009 at 15:06

    Hearing about a rape makes my stomach churn and it chips away at a woman’s sense of security. I’m glad that Dumisani is trying to do something about this horrific crime but that he refers to his own participation in gang rape as my own “incident” is disturbing. Boys and men must be educated that rape is a crime, but also, those who commit rape must be prosecuted and jailed. This is where the legal system is failing victims.

  8. 8 VictorK
    June 29, 2009 at 15:38

    @anu – yes, a little sensationalist. 1 in 4 of the men surveyed admitted to rape (rather than 1 in 4 South Africans being rapists). I note that the survey covered urban and rural areas, and that better income and education seemed to increase the likelihood of a man being a rapist (unsurprisingly: rural areas usually have conservative, traditional and cohesive communities, unlikely cities).

    But otherwise, there’s no reason to doubt the survey, and it’s certainly possible that 1 in 4 South African males are indeed rapists.

    Astronomical rates of rape and gang-rape (as well as murder) have been a well-known problem in SA for years. Rape has become a significant issue in several African countries. It is more or less institutionalised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and whenever there’s an outbreak of ethnic violence in an African state you can be sure that the initial stories of mass murder will be followed a few days by accounts of sytematic (ethnic) rape (as in Kenya recently).
    The problem is real. Denial will do nothing to solve it.

  9. 9 Tom K in Mpls
    June 29, 2009 at 16:09

    This is still a big world with many cultures. No matter what you would like to see, these cultures have very different acceptable behaviors. All cultures will change. But what will be acceptable is impossible to predict. Usually the dominant society has the most influence.

    Right now the US is dominant. We are trying to change from a decidedly fascist tendency. China is quickly gaining prominence while becoming more democratic. What will be for the world is not clear.

  10. 10 Justin from Iowa
    June 29, 2009 at 18:18

    Tom K, is that a thinly veiled insinuation that rape, in any situation, is ok? If so, I recommend the experience, so that you might gain a bit of perspective.

    I would be curious what a similar study done in the US would show, as well. The results might shock you and others, though they certainly won’t shock ME. I’ve seen the dirty underside of our society inflicted on people close to me.

    • 11 Tom K in Mpls
      June 29, 2009 at 19:03

      Not in my opinion or in US society. But then again, my opinion and the opinion of my society don’t really mean much, do they?

  11. 12 anu_D
    June 29, 2009 at 18:23

    Hello VictorK,

    “1 in 4 Admitted to Rape”…. is used in a tone almost implying the other 3 may have also raped but refused to acknowledeg…

    Instead of qualifying the statement with 1 in 4 may have been bragging “macho-mascluinity”…but may not have raped.

    And why was a high poverty rate zone chosen for the survey….and not a mix of poor+middle clas+ rich segments ???

    If you survey a respondents crossection in a Jail……you will get a result showing 99% population are criminals 🙂

    And talking about Congo/ Kenya digresses from the issue which is portraying a quarter of SA as rapists…with almost flair and sensationalism.

    No one is denying that problems of poverty, AIDS, unwareness, rape and cultural myths exist….what is being pointed out [b]the survey crossection was chosen to drive a somewhat predecided answer…and presented in glittering wrappers of sensationalism[/b]


    you tell me


  12. 13 globalcomedy
    June 29, 2009 at 18:50

    Sadly, once again you’re missing a perfect opporutunity to talk about the effects of rape on both women AND men.

    If a woman gets raped, society can deal with it. It’s horrible, but they’re “used” to it. If a guy survivor wants help, society says you don’t exist. And sorry WHYS. But you’re adding to the stupidity of this taboo by NOT having both sides talked about.

    June 29, 2009 at 19:28

    It is good for him to come forward and I hope many more will take his example. This might make a number of the would be racists in his country and elsewhere reconsider their behavior which clearly out of step.

    The guilt is there alright and this makes it all the while necessary to work towards eradicating it out of psych. I think this volunteer may help if he could digress a little bit about his feelings then in relation to his perception today. In this way he would be more helpful though he has admitted to have been a captive of social ignorance.

    Some issues rape not withstanding are totally wrong socially in South Africa because besides rape, there are many stories of muggins many of which end in fatality. However these tendencies can be got rid of since they are nothing to be proud of.

  14. 15 patti in cape coral
    June 29, 2009 at 20:39

    I also wanted to ask if under South African law, does it matter that you were only 15 at the time of the crime?

  15. 16 Jitan C
    June 30, 2009 at 17:57

    Anu_D – Please dont make this a nationalistic debate coz of your personal affinity to SA. This one is for the victims and they are all over the world so lets keep it to that

    So Dumisani’s has apologized and is trying to repent… i yet dont think that he will ever be able to redeem himself.

    I actually want to ask BBC that if they had a chance to interview the victim and if they can probably play during the show how she suffered mentally, physically and socially due to Dumisani Rebombo’s heinous act!!!

    Does / Will he ever realize the agony and mental degradation his act had caused?

    Maybe the victim’s interview will result in a change in the mindset of all those who think rape is caused due to “machismo feelings and beliefs and similar BS.

  16. 17 Jessica in NYC
    June 30, 2009 at 18:15

    I cried when I read this story. He deserved to go to jail.

    An apology is not enough. They woman that was raped was incredibly brave and noble to have forgiven her rapist.

    • 18 Dennis Junior
      June 30, 2009 at 20:21

      I am glad that this “men” told the world about his part in the rape of a innocent lady…But, he deserves to be tried in the Judicial System of South Africa and (…) Be severely punished for his part in the brutal conduct….

      His apology is NOT ACCEPTED…


  17. 19 Andy
    June 30, 2009 at 18:17


    ………..without anesthetic.

    • 20 Dennis Junior
      July 7, 2009 at 16:16

      I think that would be technically a “cruel and unusual punishment”…But, I think it would violated his “civil rights under international laws”….

      ~Dennis Junior~

  18. 21 anu_D
    June 30, 2009 at 19:15

    16 Jitan C
    June 30, 2009 at 17:57
    Anu_D – Please dont make this a nationalistic debate coz of your personal affinity to SA. This one is for the victims and they are all over the world so lets keep it to that

    ==>>Hello Jitan,

    First you make an assumption (with no basis) that I have a affinity to SA.
    How presumptuous ?

    Then you have make a misinterpretation of calling something ( can’t undertsand what) a nationalistic debate…..we don’t understand what your point is??

    Then you sound a bit propagandist telling me what to do…
    instead I humble suggest you make your points coherently…… and if you have to engage / debate with me….start with answering the questions I have raised.

    Many Thanks…a_D in Kuwait

  19. 22 Josiah Soap
    June 30, 2009 at 20:51

    Wow I am surprised the BBC put this story online. Rape and abuse, murder and ritual killings are rife across sub-Saharan Africa. However, in the name of political correctness they are often not reported in the numbers of cases and the high frequency with which they occur. Then even when they are reported it is blamed on white colonization. The world needs to wake up and see the injustices happening in Africa and their terrible human rights record. This guy needs a good beating and then a long prison sentence, not a live chat on an international radio talk show. The BBC needs to do more to cover the terrible human rights violations in Africa instead of singing its praises.

  20. 23 Vishaka
    June 30, 2009 at 22:28

    I would like to ask him;

    What if your sister,wife, daughter, mother or grandmother was raped?What would be your reaction to that? How would you feel towards the man/men who did it?
    Anger or would you just think they proved their point of being a man by raping the most important woman in your life?

  21. 24 Vishaka
    June 30, 2009 at 22:31

    I have just read his story! Im sorry i should have read it before posting..but i think the question still applies to alot of South African men!

  22. 25 James Ian
    July 1, 2009 at 00:57

    Rape!! That’s just messed up!

  23. July 1, 2009 at 15:51

    I was confidentially told that to refuse sexual favours either by a male to the advances of a female and by a female to the advances of a male is unacceptable in traditional African society. I inferred that there is great freedom, leeway if you like, in personal relationships and Africa is way ahead of the world in interpersonal relationships. This inspite of the introduction of christianity and islam into the continent. I only hope that I am not misunderstood.
    In India and south Asia in general, I feel that society is blindly running around in matters of personal relationships. Quite often we hear of dowry deaths and the like , domestic discord ending in burning or stoning of the woman for clannish pride. We are yet a way off the right relationships between men and women. India was runover, say invaded, by different people and there is a general leniency in a majority of the people. With clannish behaviour in the extreme.
    I read a lot about Chinese ‘na’ society and I admired their notion of no husbands and no fathers leading to a lot better organisation of society without any ownership of women.

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