Rapist’s crime spree

2009-01-27 00:00

A Howick man, Siyabonga Dalas Cele, will be sentenced today for his role as a gunman in three separate attacks — two of them involving rape and indecent assaults perpetrated on young people socialising at Howick Park near Howick Falls in 2007.

Cele pleaded guilty before Judge Chris Nicholson to three counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, one of incitement to rape, one of indecent assault, and one of rape, all committed during a crime spree between 3.30 pm and 11 pm on July 15, 2007.

The state and defence differ as to Cele’s correct age.

He claims he is 19 years old, but state advocate Suhana Singh told Judge Nicholson that according to the police docket Cele was born in June 1984, which means he is 24.

His legal representative, E. Zaca, said Cele’s father will be called by the defence to give evidence confirming his son’s age today.

Two of Cele’s former co-accused in the case — Thabani Ndlovu (20) and Nkosinathi Mjiyako (23) — pleaded not guilty to all the charges facing them and their trial was yesterday separated from that of Cele.

They are on trial before Judge Leona Theron who yesterday heard the testimony of a 19-year-old girl and her boyfriend who described how they were forced to perform sexual intercourse by a gunman.

The gunman was among three men who accosted them while they were fishing and braaing near the river with two other male friends on the afternoon in question, the court heard.

The girl said the man pointed a home-made gun at the four friends and ordered them to lie on the ground with their hands behind their backs.

They were then searched and their possessions, including cellphones and wallets, were taken. She described the search as “uncomfortable”.

Afterwards she was forced to accompany her male friends to the river’s edge and told to take off her pants while a gun was held to her head. The assailant instructed each of the men in turn to have sex with her, but two of them refused.

Her boyfriend did as he was told, she said.

The woman said she was traumatised by the incident, which caused her to give up her job and instead to stay at home and study. “It made me scared to go out,” she said.

The trial is proceeding.

In his guilty plea before Judge Nicholson, Cele said that on the day in question he and two companions had drunk beer when they saw three white men and a white woman at the park “enjoying themselves” and decided to rob them.

He said he took a home-made firearm and pointed it at them. “Using the threat of violence we dispossessed them of their belongings …”.

He said his companions instructed the three men to undress and have sexual intercourse with the woman.

He said only one of the men performed a sexual act with the girl.

Cele said after this he and his co-robbers went to a tavern where they bought alcohol with the stolen money.

They then decided to rob the barman in the tavern, Ntokozo Khuzwayo.

He said he pointed the firearm at Khuzwayo while his companions demanded money.

They stole R2 000 and three bottles of Fish Eagle brandy.

The trio thereafter returned to Howick Park where they saw three men and a woman and decided to rob them.

After robbing them, Cele said he ordered the woman to undress and raped her in the presence of his two accomplices, who were watching and “guarding”.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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