Teen on trial for raping girls

2009-10-20 00:00

A 19-YEAR-OLD man pleaded not guilty in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday to charges of housebreaking and robbery with aggravating circumstances, as well as the multiple rapes of a woman and two children aged 12 and nine years, in Northdale earlier this year.

Njabulo Mbhele told Judge Anton van Zyl and assessors that when he initially pleaded guilty to some of the charges at a previous hearing and made certain admissions, he did not do so freely and voluntarily, but as a result of “assaults and threats” by the investigating officer. He said therefore that any admissions he made previously were not true.

State advocate Suhanna Singh amended the charge sheet yesterday to include four additional rape charges against Mbhele.

The state alleges that he raped the woman three times during the incident; the 12-year-old girl twice and the nine-year-old once.

An intermediary has been sworn in by the court in preparation for testimony by the two children. They are to testify in an adjoining room via the intermediary to spare them the trauma of giving evidence in open court.

Singh told the court that all three of the rape victims are expected to give evidence for the state.

The state will also rely on medical evidence and the testimony of an expert witness from the Forensic Science Laboratory in Pretoria to the effect that Mbhele’s DNA was linked to the rape of the 12-year-old.

The state will also seek to admit a statement made by Mbhele to a Pietermaritzburg magistrate in connection with the case, but as he is disputing that the statement was made freely, a trial within a trial will be held to determine whether it can be admitted into evidence.

The state’s indictment alleges that Mbhele was drinking alcohol at his home in Northdale on the evening in question, Saturday, February 21, and decided that he wanted more to drink, but he had no money.

He decided to commit robbery in order to get money from a house nearby. He had a knife, which he used to commit his crimes.

The state alleges that he approached the victims’ home, pushed open the gate and kicked open the house door. Inside, he accosted the woman and children, brandishing his knife. He allegedly told the woman and one child to sit in a room and not move, and robbed them of a camera and a bank card.

He held the occupants hostage till the early hours of the morning and raped the three victims in turns. He fled before dawn.

The case is proceeding.

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