First lady joins supporters of rape victim

2012-10-20 00:00

A 19-YEAR-OLD, busy with Grade 11, covered his eyes with his fingers as he walked through a hostile group of women after being convicted yesterday of raping a young boy.

The Scottburgh regional court had just released him into the custody of his guardian when he walked past the women in the gallery, among whom was one of South Africa’s first ladies, Thobeka Madiba Zuma.

The schoolboy rapist was 16 at the time, and may therefore not be named.

His victim, and neighbour from Umgababa, was only five.

After the hearing, members of the Thobeka Madiba Zuma Foundation sang and danced outside the court where Zuma said she was happy with the verdict.

She said it “stops the community from taking the law into their own hands”.

Zuma called for a harsh sentence, saying there was provision in the Children’s Act to imprison convicts if they committed such crimes when they were over 14 years’ old.

After Magistrate K Shandu found him guilty, the victim’s grandmother let out loud sighs and was helped out of the court room amid whispers of “amanzi, amanzi (water, water)” from those assisting her.

Back in 2010, her traumatised grandson had garnered enough courage to tell her about the rape the next morning, the court heard.

When she started screaming outside her home, the 19-year-old had not gone to find out what the commotion was about, as most people in the closely-packed neighbourhood had done.

On one occasion, revealed during cross-examination, he had considered it up to his “father” to find out, and on another said he wanted to finish cleaning his yard and would later find out what the screaming was about.

“This behaviour was indicative of a person who did not immediately want to be confronted with what he had done,” said Shandu.

At an earlier hearing, Zuma told The Witness she had taken the child and his grandmother under her wing after a chance meeting at the G.J. Crookes Hospital in Scottburgh.

She said she had developed a close bond with the child.

A probation officer is scheduled to present a pre-sentence report at the next hearing, on November 23. In the meantime, the teenaged convicted rapist will be writing exams.

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