SAPS denies releasing image of Rhodes Memorial's alleged rapist

2016-03-12 14:05
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Cape Town  Cape Town police on Saturday said an image on social media, alleged to be that of a man arrested in connection with the Rhodes Memorial rape attacks was not issued by them. In the picture, the man is wearing a blue hoodie which appears to have a UCT emblem branded on it.

The man was suspected of being behind the rape of at least one of the institution's students. 

"The image of the suspect on social media wearing a UCT sweater was not issued by SAPS and we are in no position to release his photograph or his identity," said police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut.

"The identity of a suspect accused of a sexual offence can only be released after the suspect has pleaded to the charges," he said.

An eNCA reporter posted a picture alleged to be that of the suspect wearing a blue sweater dirtied by grass. 

"#RhodesMemorial Alleged rapist. @eNCA gains access to pics of his arrest. Face cropped as he's yet to appear in court," the picture was captioned. 

Intelligence-driven operation

A different person, however, posted another picture, suspected of being same man, taken with his face showing and the UCT emblem more visible. 

Traut had earlier told News24 that the man was arrested early on Saturday morning following an intelligence-driven operation.

The operation led police to a hideout on the slopes of Table Mountain below Rhodes Memorial where the 35-year-old suspect was arrested.

He has been charged for at least one of the numerous rapes that have occurred in the area and could be linked to several others, Traut said.

For now, the man has been charged in connection with a rape that took place on November 19 2015. 

"During this incident a 23-year-old female was raped at the bottom of Rhodes Memorial and robbed of her personal belongings," Traut said.

Last month, police had issued a picture of a man they identified as Patrick Hlomane, who also known as Mthunzi Makhamba, who they believed was behind the young woman's attack. 

Due to the age differences, it was unclear whether the man arrested earlier on Saturday was the same man police had identified last month. 

UCT welcomes arrest

His arrest came just days after the University of Cape Town put up a R100 000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of a rapist who had attacked several students.

On Thursday, another UCT student was brutally attacked, assaulted and raped off campus.

At the time, the university said it could not be certain, but it seemed as though the attack was similar to three previous ones near Rhodes Memorial, and that the assailant might be the same person.

The 28-year-old student was running along the bicycle path near the Princess Anne Drive bridge in Newlands when a man threatened her with a knife, UCT's Gerda Kruger said.

He severely assaulted her and forced her into the bushes, towards the Rhodes Memorial area.

"The man held her captive for some hours and raped her. The man later forced her to walk to a garage, where she was able to break free. Staff helped her to phone the police."

She was admitted to hospital.

In a statement, UCT welcomed the man's arrest and said it would continue to support the police's investigation. 

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