Civil suit: Man, acquitted of rape, says woman lied; they had affair

2008-02-12 00:00

A Howick businessman, defending a R734 000 law suit filed by a former employee, who alleges he raped her at work in September 2002, described the woman as a “psychopath” and claimed she made false allegations to cover up the fact that she stole R15 000 cash from his safe.

Jaichand Maharaj, now 60, told Judge Ziets Alkema he and the woman had a consensual extramarital affair for about four months prior to the incident on September 12, 2002, for which she later charged him with rape.

When it was suggested to him that her version — that he repeatedly indecently assaulted her, harassed her sexually and eventually raped her — was the truth, Maharaj replied he would “not stoop so low”.

He said it is “obvious she invented the charges” and said she could have had an ulterior motive from the start of their affair. “She’s a psychopath … she knew what she was doing.”

He described her as a good actress who persuaded a regional magistrate to find him guilty.

Maharaj was convicted by a regional court of the rape during 2006, but in October last year was acquitted on appeal by two high court judges, Shyam Gyanda and Kate Pillay, who ruled that the complainant’s description of how the alleged rape occurred was “improbable if not virtually impossible”.

A different legal test is applicable to civil cases.

Maharaj said he embarked on a sexual relationship with the woman “during June or July 2002”.

Under cross examination by advocate Paul Schumann, he could not recall who made the first advance, initially stating they both did and later saying “it seemed to me as if it was her”. They used no protection as he did not like condoms. He “assumed” she was HIV negative.

He agreed she was an attractive young woman and that at the beginning her attraction to him was a “bit of a surprise”. However, he later added that there are people “who come up to me even now and tell me that [they are attracted to me] … I don’t know why”.

Maharaj said during the relationship he and the woman “kissed and cuddled” daily, engaged in oral sex about “five or six times” and had sexual intercourse “three or four times”. He claimed they had “fallen in love”.

Maharaj said on September 9, 2002, he put R15 000 cash (a loan repayment) in his office safe and asked the woman to deposit the money in his bank account. He discovered either on September 10 or 11 that the money was gone and there was no deposit slip. She later denied all knowledge of the money, making him “furious”.

Asked why he did not report the theft to the police he said he first wanted to talk to her.

He alleges that on September 12, he confronted her and they argued when she again denied knowledge of the money. After a while she came to him, sat on his lap and began playing with his hair. “One thing just led to another … I tried to push her aside … sometimes love conquers all things,” he responded, when asked by Schumann why he had sex with the woman after accusing her of theft, instead of calling the police.

Asked why he refused to take a blood test for DNA purposes soon after his arrest instead of revealing his alleged affair with the complainant, he said he did tell police they had a relationship. His reason for not wanting a blood test was that he knew he had not committed a crime, and that he did not want to stand in a queue with people who might be HIV positive, he said.

The case is proceeding.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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