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Man (57) arrested for rape of juvenile a month after accusations

By Bahle Gama

A suspect has told the court that he was baffled when he was arrested for the alleged rape of a juvenile over a month later when the accusations first arose.

Sidumo Zwane (57) was on March 19 arrested and charged with contravening Section 3 (1) of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act 15 of 2018 for allegedly raping the complainant in question.

According to his charge sheet, during February and March at KaNdlunganye he wrongfully and unlawfully intentionally had sexual intercourse with the 13-year-old victim several times.

In his bail application, Zwane told the court that for a considerable period until March, he was a regular patron at the minor’s homestead which is also a shebeen called KaNcence.

He said he would frequently join other imbibers mostly men guzzling on brew and at every sunset would peacefully leave the place and head home.

“Naturally, I became aware of the identity of the complainant as one of the children at such a spot, but never developed any bond or friendly relations with the complainant.

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She was very close to other male patrons than myself, even though she would greet me and occasionally serve brew and beers pursuant to the purchase of such by the patrons,” he said.

Zwane told the court that in early February, he visited the drinking spot and in keeping up with habit he greeted the patrons he found, mostly made up of drunk men.

In their midst was the complainant serving beer to them. He placed his order, and the minor went to her family house a few yards from the drinking area where Zwane said he nestled himself to await his drink in the company of other imbibers.

“I waited for a while and the complainant did not return which then prompted me to walk towards the direction of her house to make a follow up only to meet her along the path going there,” Zwane submitted.

Juvenile rape

He said he enquired on the reason for the delay, further jokingly passing a comment that he would not marry her if she did not respect the time and then took his drink, rejoined the other men, and later went home.

To his shock and dismay a story brewed around that he had relations with the complainant and even had sexual intercourse with her, something he innocently dismissed as playful banter.

It was not until the accusation intensified when the complainant’s mother confronted him on the issue which he vehemently denied as “never on any occasion did I sleep with her or even remotely suggest such.”

He further stated that when this happened, the complainant’s family was divided on the veracity of such allegations and was always present to respond to any inquiries made.

At some point, he even offered to stay away from visiting the shebeen with the hope that they would get to the bottom of the allegations.

Indeed, the allegations subsided around the end of February when it became clear that he was falsely accused only to resurface around mid-March before his arrest.

“When this happened, the complainant had long left the residence to reside with her biological father. I am steadfast in my stance that I did not rape or have any sexual intercourse with her,” he submitted.

Zwane said he will on account of the offence plead not guilty. He told the court he has two children who are solely dependent on him for a living which he makes by regularly scavenging for informal jobs, driving people around, and cleaning people’s yards around the area.

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He further submitted that he is a single parent as he long separated from his wife, therefore keeps watch over the family home and his absence makes it susceptible to break-ins in an area where crime is rife.

Zwane also told the court that he is asthmatic and takes medication for his condition, which naturally demands proper and adequate ventilation, a luxury not afforded to trial awaiting prisoners, on security considerations.

He further undertook to adhere to all bail conditions. The High Court granted Zwane bail at E50,000 and was ordered to pay E4,000 cash and E46,000 as surety.

In the event he successfully posts bail, he is expected to report at the Matsapha police station every last Friday of the month.

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