Accused in paramedic rape trial 'evasive'

2012-07-18 19:16
Johannesburg - Evidence given by two men accused of raping two female paramedics was labelled contradictory and evasive by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"Accused number one's [Richard Tshifhiwa Luruli] evidence that he was a passerby on that night was totally contradictory and evasive," Judge Sherise Erica Weiner said in delivering judgment.

Evidence against him was overwhelming and the DNA evidence linking him to the crime could not be disregarded, she said.

Weiner said the evidence of Luruli's co-accused Michael Khorombi, that he was not present on the night and did not know the area where the incident took place, was beset with contradiction.

"He never told the court as to where he was on that day and sometimes chose to remain silent and not answer questions put to him."

Khorombi's DNA test was negative because he used a condom, she said.

Luruli and Khorombi face 15 counts including rape, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, kidnapping, robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and compelling another to perform a sexual assault.

The court heard how the two kidnapped and raped two paramedics who had responded to an emergency call to help a toddler with burn wounds in Durban Deep in March 2010.

Luruli and Khorombi arrived while the child was being examined in the ambulance. The two women were dragged away from the ambulance at gunpoint.

The accused told a neighbour and a relative who had accompanied the child's mother to stay by the ambulance or they would be shot.

The toddler's mother, Daphney Khozamela, testified that she left her child with the paramedics and her neighbour and went back to her house to fetch clothes.

Khozamela told the court the paramedics were not there when she returned.

She and her neighbour then called the police. An ambulance was also summoned to take the child to hospital.

Weiner said a 20-year-old passerby was traumatised and embarrassed by the incident.

He testified that he was on his way to look for a friend when he came across the men raping the two women.

He was told at gunpoint to rape one of the women.

He pretended to do so. He was later let go by the accused together with the women after the men were finished with the raping.

He did not tell anyone what had happened until the police went to his house to ask him to make a second statement, said Weiner.

His parents instructed him to tell them exactly what happened on that night, she said.

Weiner said all the evidence by State witnesses was credible. They corroborated one another.

The State had a list of 29 witnesses, including the accused's friends, a forensic expert, a medical doctor, police and Khorombi's girlfriend Bongiwe Meyisi.

She and two other friends of the accused testified that the men left on the same evening of the crime to go and "make a plan" and get money.

They said the two returned around midnight with some cash, female rings and cellphones.

"There was no way that these witnesses, who were very close to the accused, would come to court and tell lies about them," said Weiner.

Judgment continues on Thursday.

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