'Charming' serial rapist's bid for freedom

2017-07-19 16:30
The Westville Prison. (Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)

The Westville Prison. (Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)

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Durban - Is serial rapist Andre Gregory Mahomed a man who oozes insincere charm - a manipulative psychopath who, if released from prison, will most likely re-offend?

Or is he an "insightful, reflective, intelligent man" who should no longer be labelled a dangerous criminal and released back into society where he can undergo treatment for his personality disorder?

These are the issues Durban Regional Court Magistrate Sharon Marks has to weigh up as she faces opposing expert views testifying in an unusual hearing in which Mahomed, 45, is seeking freedom.

Mahomed, who was convicted of multiple counts of rape he committed between 1996 and 1997 in the Durban area, was declared a "dangerous criminal" by Marks 17 years ago and sentenced to serve an indefinite term of imprisonment.

Now he is back before the same magistrate - in the same court - asking that she reconsider her sentence and release him on parole.

READ: Rapist gets 229 years

Crime spree

Mahomed was a welder who lived in a flat above a chicken shop in Overport at the time.

He targeted young women living alone in flats in Morningside and the Berea after apparently watching them through windows.

Once the head boy of his primary school, Mahomed was apparently spoilt by his mother and, as he grew older, was popular with the girls but hung out with a bad crowd and started committing petty crime.

He was married with a daughter when he went on his crime spree.

In a report before the court, he claimed that when he was 23, during an attempt to steal money and a radio from a car, he had seen a woman "in a state of undress" through her flat window.

She did not see him.

This incident both "shocked and aroused him".

His psychologist, Dr Bruce Gillmer, said in a report that this appeared to have "triggered a growing voyeuristic fascination.

"What followed was a pattern of watching out for lights in occupied buildings, frank voyeurism which escalated into following women, brushing past them and then groping them.

"The housebreaking, voyeurism, indecent exposure and indecent assault became intertwined, culminating in the first rape," Gillmer said.

'Superficially charming'

Mahomed was eventually convicted in Durban of 21 counts of rape, indecent assault and housebreaking, robbery and escaping from custody.

He was later convicted of similar crimes committed in Pretoria where he went to hide after "walking out of an identification parade line-up". He received a similar sentence there.

Gillmer said Mahomed had been an exemplary prisoner.

He disagreed with the diagnosis of other psychologists and SAPS chief psychologist Lieutenant-Colonel Bronwynn Stollarz that Mahomed had an anti-social personality disorder and psychopathic traits.

"Prior to the onset of his deviant behaviour, he was well-adjusted," he said, cautioning against over-emphasising the "dreadfulness of the acts.

"There is more than sufficient doubt about his personality, the pattern of criminality and his post-incarceration adjustment to seriously question whether he should still be considered a dangerous criminal and whether society needs to be protected from him."

Stollarz, in her report before the court and in evidence today, presented a different face of Mahomed.

"He is glib and superficially charming," she said.

"He was like that when I interviewed him and, from reading victim statements, he was like that with them.

"He talks about the wrongfulness of his actions but he lacks true remorse. It shows in the way he describes his crimes, such as saying 'We had sex,' rather than 'I raped her' or 'I forced myself on her.'

"He minimises what he has done."

She said Mahomed "said all the right things" in order to manipulate the situation and "told different professionals different things".

She said when asked about the crimes, he had on different occasions claimed to have committed them because he was "bored" or "lonely" or was having difficulties in his marriage.

Recently, to her, he had blamed his mother claiming she had neglected him, when relatives said the opposite.

It was suggested to her by Mahomed's attorney, Bert Laing, that "he comes across as a nice person".

"He is superficially charming… yes," Stollarz replied.

Rehabilitation

She said his personality disorders were "chronic and lifelong" and while there might, with age, be a "slowing down or burning out", they would not go away.

Mahomed, in his interview with her, had said he was now a "quieter man" and no longer concerned about his sexual needs. He would go to gym or visit a prostitute to manage his sexual urges if released.

"Sexual offenders are difficult to rehabilitate and the recidivism rate is high. As long as the offender remains sexually active he is at risk for re-offending.

"I believe he poses a continued risk for sexual and criminal re-offending."

Previously, James Shabalala, chair of the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board, testified that he also could not recommend release, because it appeared Mahomed had not been rehabilitated.

Prosecutor Val Melis has placed on record that only four victims had been prepared to make victim impact statements.

"The others do not want to get involved at all because of what they went through. They do not want to take part in any victim-offender programmes. They do not want to see him again because of what he did to them. The four who gave statements are all opposed to his release," she said.

The statements have not been handed in as evidence as yet.

The hearing continues.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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