The Herald (South Africa)

‘I had to wash off the dirtiness’

Woman, 78, gives harrowing account of alleged rape by trusted gardener and handyman

- Devon Koen

Nearing 80 years old, a Gqeberha grandmothe­r was no match for her alleged rapist — more than 34 years her junior and far stronger.

To make matters worse, the man was someone she had trusted, fed and employed for several years, the woman said.

She never imagined she would ever have to go through such an ordeal, let alone at the age of 78.

But yesterday, feeling frail and emotional, she found herself in the city’s high court, unpacking the events of a day she would never forget.

Xolani Teyise, 44, the alleged perpetrato­r and the woman’s gardener and handyman of several years, denies the allegation­s.

“I never thought it could ever happen. I trusted him, I trusted him so much,” the distraught woman said of Teyise, seated just metres from her in the dock.

Reliving the events of January 4 last year and having to answer tough questions put to her by the defence appeared to take its toll on the elderly Motherwell woman and mother of five.

At times, she showed signs of fatigue and agitation.

She said she also suffered from hypertensi­on, which was made worse under immense stress.

She had been at the clinic earlier yesterday morning as a result.

Opting to stay seated in the witness box, the woman fiddled with her skirt, refusing to look up at her alleged rapist, throughout her testimony.

She said on the day in question, Teyise had arrived at her house at around 5pm.

Her son had also been visiting at the time.

The woman said there was nothing unusual about Teyise’s unannounce­d visit as he would often pop in to have something to eat, even on the days he was not working for her.

He helped her in her garden and would on occasion run errands for her, and she even gave him money to do her shopping. She trusted him.

Just before 7pm that night, her son left to go home.

“[My son] had no problem to leave me and [Teyise alone] because he knew [Teyise].

“I considered [Teyise] to be family though I did not know his family home [sic],” the woman said.

Teyise had lived in the vicinity.

After her son had left, the woman dished up food for the two of them and they ate together.

Once they had eaten, the woman told Teyise that she was tired and he should leave so that she could go to bed.

However, he allegedly refused.

“I said to him, ‘It’s late now, you must leave because I’m going to sleep now’, but he said no. He was not going anywhere,” the woman said.

Teyise then allegedly told her that there were rumours circulatin­g around NU29 in Motherwell that the two of them were having an affair.

The woman said his allegation had infuriated her and she once again told him to go

home. He then allegedly insisted on sleeping over at her house and that she should make up a bed for him.

“I said to [Teyise] never to step foot here [at my house] again,” she said.

She said Teyise told her that he loved her and wanted to have sex with her, but she refused.

He then allegedly grabbed her, aggressive­ly threw her on a couch in the lounge and proceeded to rape her.

“He did what he did to me. I was scared; he is [well] built and strong,” she said.

After the alleged rape, the woman said she had gone to the bathroom to clean herself and “wash off the dirtiness”.

The next day, the woman told her daughter what had happened.

Her daughter then told her to report the matter to the police and Teyise was arrested the following day.

He has been in custody ever since.

After her testimony, the woman had to be assisted by court staff to stand up in the witness box, before they also helped her out of the courtroom.

Teyise has pleaded not guilty to a charge of rape.

Defence advocate Khaya Saziwa said Teyise would deny

It was Teyise the’allegation­s. s version that he had left immediatel­y after they ate a meal together and had never raped her.

Addressing the woman, Saziwa said: “You gave him food and the two of you ate together after your son left.

“Thereafter, you told [Teyise] it was late and he had to leave.

“He then agreed to leave.” Testimony continues today, when the state is expected to close its case.

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