South African Court Exonerates Alleged Attacker in Controversial Rape Case

The dropped charge rekindled public shock and outrage in the deadly rape of 17-year-old Anene Booysen.

Posted: 06/10/2013 01:15 PM EDT

Charges have been dropped against the man accused of brutally raping and murdering 17-year-old South African Anene Booysen last February. Prosecutors claimed not to have enough evidence to indict Jonathan Davids, 22, despite Booysen's having named him and his friends as her attackers moments before her death.

“Everybody is terribly disappointed and feels incredibly let down,” Rachel Jewkes, an expert on violence against women at the South African Medical Research Council, told The New York Times. “The question is, did the police really go all out to investigate?”

Davids' exoneration revived the same shock and outrage initially felt around the world regarding the highly publicized case. Reports suggest that sexual assault and non-partner rape have reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. About 64,000 cases of sexual offence were reported in 2012, a dwarfed number considering that police estimate only one in 36 rapes are reported.

Analysts and advocates have argued that Booysen's death and recent cases of sexual violence occurring in India, Brazil and Egypt illustrate the need for tougher prosecution and police work for crimes against women.

“Many women wonder why they should bother to report,” said Jewkes.

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(Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)

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