Constable Boitumelo Rakabe, a formidable investigator stationed at the Brits Family violence, Child protection and Sexual offences (FCS) unit has been in the police force for 13 years and her remarkable work has not gone unnoticed by the South African Police Service (SAPS).
During the Provincial Service Excellence Awards hosted by SAPS in Sun City in December 2019, Constable Rakabe was presented with accolades in the best provincial FCS member level 5-7 category and received second place in the same category at the 7th Annual National Service Excellence Awards held in Port Elizabeth last month.
The 42-year-old constable was born in Witfontein in the North West and later moved with her parents to live in the Brits area, where she was appointed in the police in 2007. Rakabe considers her recent national recognition as one of her biggest achievement. “I was very happy to have won and my second runner up win at national level is one of my biggest achievement so far,” said Rakabe.
While employed in the police, Rakabe developed a love to work with children and in 2013 she joined the Brits FCS unit. “When I started work as a FCS member it was not easy. To thrive in this environment you must have a heart to help others. I used to cry a lot because of the nature of the cases I was investigating and my colleagues even gave me a nickname because of this,” she laughs. The Brits FCS member says although the work she does can be saddening, it is more fulfilling to see suspects finally sentenced and victims getting justice.
Constable Rakabe has had numerous successful cases in her career but one of the most exceptional rape cases whereby she managed to secure a conviction was the sentencing of a serial rapist, Ephraim Mkhabane in January 2019 at the Pretoria High Court. He was terrorising young women around the Letlhabile area between 2013 and 2014. The accused was sentenced to three life imprisonment sentences for rape with an addition of over 100 years imprisonment for other offences including robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Although her work brings her into dangerous face to face encounters with suspects, she remains undeterred and is determined to do her work to the best of her ability. “I was once approached by a man and he started talking to me and describing my children, and I asked him how he knows my children. He told me that I investigated his case once, and that’s when I realised that my work can be dangerous, but am not discouraged by such intimidations.” She further explains that dealing with male suspects is always a challenge.
“Is not easy to face a male suspect as a female police officer alone, nobody wants to be arrested and a situation can quickly turn violent,” she laughs. Despite the rate of rape and abuse against women and children not declining, Rakabe says she does not see herself leaving the FCS unit for the world. “I want to grow within the service and not leave the unit,” she said. The 42-year-old is usually mistaken for a social worker by people because sometimes she offers a helping hand to parents with troublesome children while off-duty by talking to them and giving them guidance.
She further warns women to be vigilant when going about their activities at night. “Women must look out for themselves. It is not safe. I wouldn’t advise them to walk nor party at night because they can either be killed or raped,” added Rakabe. The award-winning constable is married with two children and enjoys exercising.
She expressed her gratitude to Captain Jones Mafotsa for the role he played in her career.