THE rape of a Motherwell mother, allegedly by a taxi driver and his conductor, while on her way home from work has sounded alarm bells in Port Elizabeth.
And frighteningly, police revealed yesterday that as many as six women a month are being raped in minibus taxis in the city.
The shocking revelation follows the rape last week of the mother of two, who had boarded a taxi in Sixth Avenue, Walmer, after work to take her to Motherwell.
The 45-year-old domestic worker only reported the matter to police days later after her employer convinced her to do so.
She had been too ashamed to go to the police.
The woman's employer, who cannot be named to protect her domestic's identity, said yesterday the woman was still extremely traumatised by the "life-altering" incident.
"She [the victim] came to work and I asked her what was wrong. That's when the story came out. She is very ashamed and still traumatised by what happened.
"After she told me what had happened, I said I would go with her to the police to report it," the employer said.
"Obviously, because she was ashamed she did not want to go to the authorities."
A policeman close to the case said the rape had terrified the woman to such an extent that she was too scared to take a taxi or even walk alone in the Walmer area.
He said there had been three passengers in the taxi when the victim boarded it on Thursday afternoon, but they got out about five minutes later.
"When they left, the woman was alone and they [the taxi driver and conductor] told her they were going to fetch more people.
"The driver then continued towards South End, where he parked the taxi in a very secluded area near the South End cemetery," the officer said.
The driver and conductor then allegedly threatened to kill the woman and told her to undress before taking turns raping her on the back seat.
They dropped her off in Heugh Road, Walmer, about an hour later.
The woman laid a rape complaint at the Humewood police station on Monday
"How many times has this happened and because the women are too ashamed, it does not get reported?" the employer asked.
"Victims must come forward as it will help catch these men and save other women from being raped."
A Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) officer, who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said such rapes were fairly common.
"It is a problem and, in most cases, the victim fails to get the registration number or note any distinctive markings on the vehicle," he said.
"There are hundreds of taxis in the area and obviously this makes it very difficult to track down and arrest the culprits.
"In almost all the cases, the victims cannot recognise their attackers, which means that even if they were arrested the women would not be able to identify them as the culprits."
The officer said the drivers and conductors usually worked together and targeted women travelling alone.
"There is an element of opportunism involved as the attackers usually wait until the woman is alone in the taxi.
"I would recommend that if a female finds herself alone in a taxi, get out with the other passengers," he said.
Taxi associations said yesterday they were not aware of any rapes happening in taxis.
Mkhuma Nqandu of the Uncedo Taxi Association advised victims to report the cases to their office.
"We cannot allow such behaviour as it is dragging the name of taxi drivers down the drain.
"Those who are responsible will be dealt with accordingly, and they sure do not belong in this organisation," he said.
Algoa Taxi Association's Kevin van Aswegen said he had never heard of any such incidents.
Police spokesman Captain Stanley Jarvis confirmed that the FCS was investigating a double case of rape.
"The woman is very traumatised and is struggling to piece together what happened," he said.
"We are attempting to track down the culprits but it is very difficult as she is unable to give a description of the men or the taxi.
"We are going to try to compile an identikit. The investigators will also be pulling video footage from street cameras in an effort to identify the culprits," Jarvis said.