ANC-aligned al­leged rapists roam free

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

On the morn­ing of De­cem­ber 31, the small town of Brit­stown in the North­ern Cape woke up to the news that a 20-year-old woman had ac­cused three men of gang-rap­ing her. The ac­cused are two lead­ing ANC fig­ures and a care­taker at the lo­cal pri­mary school.

Three days later, dur­ing the first court ap­pear­ance of Pa­trick Mbombo (39), Carel Riem­p­ies (39) and Siyab­ulela Tshandu (30) at the Brit­stown Mag­is­trates’ Court, a group of up to 40 peo­ple wear­ing ANC T-shirts – some em­bla­zoned with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s smil­ing face – protested out­side court in their de­fence.

The trio was re­leased on bail of R500 each, North­ern Cape po­lice spokesper­son Lieu­tenant Colonel Di­makatso Mooi told City Press. The Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity in the North­ern Cape said the court would have been per­suaded that R500 bail for each of the ac­cused was suf­fi­cient.

The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer han­dling the case said it was post­poned to March 30, pend­ing the re­ceipt of out­stand­ing DNA re­sults.

Mbombo is a for­mer ANC branch chair­per­son in Brit­stown and a se­nior man­ager at the Emthanjeni Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, while Tshandu has done work for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity on a ca­sual ba­sis.

Riem­p­ies is a care­taker at Lu­vuyo Pri­mary School and a mem­ber of the lo­cal Jeremiah Solomon ANC branch ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in Ward 7.

Two com­mu­nity ac­tivists with in­ti­mate knowl­edge of the al­leged rape told City Press dur­ing a visit to the area that “rape is just another crime here in Brit­stown, and peo­ple with money and power get away with it all the time”.

They added that they be­lieved the rea­son the men were granted bail was be­cause there was in­ter­fer­ence from politi­cians.

The 2015/16 crime sta­tis­tics, which were re­leased in Septem­ber, showed a spike in sex­ual of­fence crimes in the North­ern Cape and Lim­popo, while the rest of the coun­try saw a de­crease.

North­ern Cape Trans­port, Safety and Li­ai­son MEC Pauline Wil­liams said “the num­ber of sex­ual of­fences is quite con­sid­er­able for our prov­ince and I am con­cerned about that”.

“We agree among our­selves as gov­ern­ment that it’s a joint ven­ture and we all need to as­sist one another,” Wil­liams said.

How­ever, in Brit­stown last week, it seemed like few gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity lead­ers shared Wil­liams’ con­cern.

Than­deka Qoba, the prin­ci­pal at Lu­vuyo Pri­mary School, de­clined to com­ment when asked whether it was right to keep the ac­cused in the em­ploy of a school that was re­spon­si­ble for hun­dreds of pupils.

Isak Visser, the mu­nic­i­pal man­ager in the Emthanjeni Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, where Mbombo is em­ployed as a unit man­ager in charge of Brit­stown, said that, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal le­gal opin­ion, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity could not act against Mbombo un­til the case was con­cluded be­cause “the al­leged crime did not hap­pen on the premises of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity or dur­ing work­ing hours”.

Asked whether it should have been rec­om­mended that Mbombo take vol­un­tary leave, Visser said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was still con­sid­er­ing its op­tions on how to deal with the mat­ter.

He said he was also not aware that peo­ple who were rel­a­tives of the com­plainant, and who may be wit­nesses in the case, were col­leagues of Mbombo’s, which cre­ated a po­ten­tially un­com­fort­able work­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

The le­gal opin­ion Visser re­ceived on Jan­uary 5 from Nathalie Sal­ter de­tailed the avail­able facts in Mbombo’s case and high­lighted that “there might be a pos­si­bil­ity that there might be a po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy against Mr Mbombo”.

Sal­ter said “the mere ar­rest of an em­ployee does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that the trust re­la­tion­ship had been af­fected”.

ANC branch chair­per­son in Ward 7 God­frey Nyl said the party had not taken steps against Riem­p­ies, but the mat­ter would be dis­cussed at the next branch ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing.

Khat­hazile To­long, ANC sec­re­tary in the Pix­ley Ka Seme re­gion, which in­cludes Brit­stown, Hanover, De Aar and Petrusville (ANC pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary Za­mani Saul’s home town) said the rape al­le­ga­tion had not been brought to the re­gion’s at­ten­tion and he would put the mat­ter on the agenda for the up­com­ing re­gional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing.

Mbombo de­clined to com­ment.

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