Child rape accused claims innocence
SANDI KWON HOO SANDI.KWONHOO@INL.CO.ZA
African News Agency
THE 27-YEAR-OLD man accused of raping an eight-year-old girl in Jan Kempdorp claims that he is being “set up” and that he considered the girl to be like his “own younger sister”. During his bail hearing in the Jan Kempdorp Magistrate’s Court this week, the accused, Aobakwe Johnny, indicated that he was not afraid of facing the wrath of the community. “I am free, I am not even scared. God is good. I will plead not guilty to the charges.” He stated that he was able to afford bail of R500. Community members held up placards outside the court building, calling for justice and insisting that Johnny should not be granted bail. “We don’t know if the community will resort to mob justice,” they warned. Johnny added that the State had a weak case against him as he believed it was based on hearsay evidence. “I was arrested without a warrant at home and I offered my full co-operation to the police. No tests were conducted with the child. No blood tests were taken from me. No DNA test will link me to the case. “The child used to come to my place, my sister even applied for a social grant for her. She used to stay with us for between four and five months and my sister looked after her. “I don’t know who opened the case. The victim and her mother still go to my house. My sister visited me over the weekend and she told me the mother was crying because I was in custody, she is not cross with me. “I heard people saying that I did that to her. I don’t know if the child was taken to the doctor. The child is very young and very small. Maybe she would be paralysed or she would have a different kind of walk. I am old, how can I do that to a small child? I didn’t do that.” He added that the day before his arrest, the girl’s mother had informed him that she did not agree with the grandmother’s claims that her daughter had been raped. Johnny explained that an altercation took place with the mother’s boyfriend when they took her daughter away from him. “My sister was angry and he tried to fight her. He grabbed her by her clothes and I pushed him away from her and he fell. “After her mother came from wherever, we took the child to her mother as we found her sleeping with her stepfather.” He expressed that he was not emotionally well at the beginning of his bail hearing. “I have been in custody for a long time. I am stressed and confused. My car wash business is suffering and I am stressed about my child. I love him very much, he is my only boy child. “My life is on hold and my child will question where I am. He is my life. He visits me every weekend and I will not be able to take care of him and support him. While I am in custody, he is staying with my father’s mother. He will not be able to survive without my support while I am incarcerated. I take money to my family and buy them groceries.” Johnny claimed that he received no medical attention while he was in custody, saying that he had undergone an operation on his right leg and required regular check-ups. The legal representative for the accused, Christill Sakoor from Legal Aid South Africa, stated that her client was not a flight risk as he did have a passport and would not interfere with any witnesses. She added that he would also comply with all bail conditions. State prosecutor Katlego Thotela warned Johnny that the community was in an uproar over the incident. “The safety of the accused cannot be guaranteed if he is released on bail, he is more secure in custody. He will have full access to medical care in prison. If found guilty of the charges, a hefty sentence will be handed down.” Thotela believed that Johnny had given misleading information to the court. “The rape case was opened by teachers, does this mean that they were also trying to set up the accused?” He indicated that Johnny was not the primary caregiver of his son and that he would not risk losing formal employment if he owned a car wash. Magistrate Makume will deliver judgment on the bail application today.