Schoolgirl rape case: accused denied bail

Komani locals who attended the bail hearing of a 24 year-old rape accused heaved sighs of relief as the court turned down his bail application on Monday.

The man, believed to be a taxi conductor, was arrested on August 18 for the alleged brutal attack and rape of a 15-year-old former Hexagon High School pupil.

Defence attorney Bizmark Boqwana read out the accused’s prepared affidavit for the application on October, 25 where he (accused) stated that he understood the charge against him but denied raping the victim. “We were both under the influence. We went to a nearby tavern to buy alcohol and I was mislead about her age. She appeared to be around the age of 18 to me. I hit her in self-defence as she hit me first.”

In the affidavit the accused stated that he was supporting his family financially and wanted to go back to work to take care of his pregnant girlfriend. “I will not endanger the safety of the public and I confirm that I do not have any previous convictions.”

Investigating officer sergeant Portia Joteni took the stand and described the accused as dishonest. “He assaulted the victim with the intention of killing her and destroying the evidence. He failed to cooperate with the police from the start and lied about his age, claiming he was 17-years-old. If he were to be released on bail he would run away,” said Joteni.

Boqwana indicated that there was no evidence before the court to prove that the accused would commit an offence or evade trial.

In his argument, state prosecutor Khayalethu Stengile said it must be proven that exceptional circumstances existed, pointing out that gender-based violence was a widespread epidemic that affected society at large.

After magistrate Ganasen Narayamsy read the ruling, Komani locals waved goodbye as the accused stepped down the dock to return to incarceration.

The victim’s mother said they were happy the accused was denied bail as their biggest fear was that he would search for the victim if he was released. “We were scared that he would threaten the witnesses who had seen him when this happened. We were also concerned about my daughter’s safety, but today the justice system has shown that it is against gender-based violence.”

Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality gender-based violence coordinator Bulelwa Mgijima said they were glad that the issue of gender-based violence was raised in court and the ruling presented was an example that justice needed to prevail.”

The accused will appear again on December 9 to allow for further investigation.

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