A case involving 14 men who allegedly robbed and gang-raped several women from a film crew in South Africa has caused outrage after prosecutors cleared the men when DNA evidence failed to link them to the crime.
The men, believed to be illegal miners, had allegedly robbed, attacked and raped at least eight women while a crew of 22 people were filming a music video at an abandoned mine in the northern city of Krugersdorp in July.
Initially, authorities had arrested at least 80 men, but only 14 men were charged after the women identified them as their assailants in a police lineup.
The news sparked violent protests against gender violence and illegal miners, heightening tensions as locals have often accused immigrants of increasing violence and crime in their communities.
Protesters launched attacks on abandoned mines and burned miners’ tents and belongings.
On Thursday Oct. 27, South Africa’s national prosecuting authority (NPA) said the case had been withdrawn as DNA results could not link any of the men to the rapes.
Police said they would continue to investigate the case and bring the offenders to justice.
Despite a high number of rape cases, South Africa has low conviction rates.
“We are completely outraged at these latest developments, which means the police have no idea who committed this crime. They arrested the wrong people, so the real criminals are still out there,” a spokesperson for the Commission for Gender Equality said.
A court will still prosecute the 14 men for illegally entering the country.
There are high levels of violence against women in South Africa, according to statistics.
2,930 women were murdered in South Africa in the 12-month period from 2017 to 2018, which is around one murder every three hours.