Two tes­tify as al­leged se­rial rapist’s trial be­gins

Court pro­ceed­ings held in cam­era to spare wit­nesses any more hu­mil­i­a­tion

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - KHAYA KOKO

THE FIRST com­plainants in the al­leged Tem­bisa se­rial rapist’s trial tes­ti­fied in the high court in Joburg yes­ter­day, but the pro­ceed­ings were held in cam­era to spare the women any hu­mil­i­a­tion.

Two young women – who were teenagers when they were al­legedly raped by Joseph Rasem­pane Mahloma and an un­known male in a Tem­bisa field in Jan­uary 2011 – were the first of 103 wit­nesses who the State will call in its quest to prove Mahloma’s guilt.

The ac­cused is facing 104 charges, in­clud­ing 22 of rape, 17 of kid­nap­ping and three of sex­ual as­sault in an al­leged reign of ter­ror that prose­cu­tors say started in Jan­uary 2011 and ended with Mahloma’s ar­rest in Au­gust 2014.

A source close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion told The Star that prose­cu­tors had to bring an ap­pli­ca­tion to hold yester- day’s pro­ceed­ings in cam­era be­fore the court – in terms of sec­tion 153(3) of the Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure Act – “so as to not only pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of the com­plainants, but to spare them hu­mil­i­a­tion and em­bar­rass­ment”.

Sec­tion 153(3) roughly en­tails giv­ing a court dis­cre­tion in crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings re­lat­ing to a charge that the ac­cused com­mit­ted an in­de­cent act to­wards an­other to hold the pro­ceed­ings be­hind closed doors; only par­ties in­volved in the case are al­lowed to be present.

This ap­pli­ca­tion was not op­posed by Mahloma’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, ad­vo­cate JN Mal­ende.

Asked about the state of the two women be­fore tes­ti­fy­ing, the source said: “No, they are not fine. They are do­ing their best to move on with their lives, which is good.

“But such a thing has a ter­ri­ble psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fect on a per­son.”

The charge sheet, which was read out on Tues­day by State pros­e­cu­tor Deb­o­rah Zinn, al­leged that Mahloma and an un­known ac­com­plice forced three young women – aged 14, 16 and 18 in 2011 – to ac­com­pany them at gun­point to a field near Themba Khoza in­for­mal set­tle­ment in the early hours of Jan­uary 1.

They then tied up the 18-year-old while they raped the other two. The 18-year-old was then raped by one of the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors.

All three women’s clothes were then taken and they were made to walk home naked.

The three women were ex­am­ined on the day of the in­ci­dent by Tem­bisa Hospi­tal’s Dr EM Tipoy, who used a sex­ual as­sault ex­am­i­na­tion kit to com­pile a DNA iden­tikit; the ev­i­dence of which was ad­mit­ted into court on Wed­nes­day with­out dis­pute.

The State hopes that the DNA col­lected from this kit will tie Mahloma to the al­leged rapes.

An­other re­li­able source close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said ear­lier this week that the po­lice had yet to find and ar­rest the ac­com­plice as Mahloma re­fused to name him.

The search had since been sus­pended.

The source said the ac­cused had claimed “he was pre­pared

They are do­ing their best to move on with their lives, which is good

to take on the ac­com­plice’s charges for him­self ”. Mahloma pleaded not guilty to all 104 charges. @khayakoko88

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