Girl ‘sorry for rape lie’

2014-03-24 00:00

A WOMAN whose “rapist” has spent the past eight years in jail has confessed to The Witness, “He did nothing wrong to me.”

And, in a dramatic, tearful visit to his prison last week, she told Bongani Ndimande she was sorry.

Ndimande, (23) from Estcourt, is serving his sentence of 14 years for the rape of an 11-year-old girl in New Prison, Pietermaritzburg.

Now 18, that same girl — Sinenhlanhla Sithole — has told The Witness, Durban-based justice advocates and Ndimande himself that she was never raped, and that she was pressured to lie in court on instructions stemming from an intense family feud.

But she is having to tell the truth — and do what she can to see Ndimande released — from hiding, following threats from her own family if she recanted her story in public.

Just 15 at the time of his arrest, Ndimande has missed his high school years and the funerals of both his parents while in prison.

Sithole claims that, when she was 11, she was instructed by an aunt to make up the rape claim.

The Durban-based prisoner advocacy group, Justice for Prisoners and Detainees Trust, revealed that it would seek bail and an urgent review of Ndimande’s case in court motions on April 4, based on the “fresh evidence” that there was no rape.

Derrick Mdluli, the director of the organisation, said a long-standing family “agenda” had resulted in the false charge. “There was a squabble between the families and the child was used by the aunt in opening a rape case against Ndimande,” said Mdluli. “Now the child wants to speak the truth about this.”

He said there was no DNA or other physical evidence that supported the claim that Ndimande raped anyone.

Sithole claimed that, when certain members of her family discovered she was communicating with the Ndimande family via SMS, one assaulted her and “chased” her away.

She was then taken away to a “secret place” in KZN by Ndimande’s brother, Mzwandile.

“At that time I was 11 years old, staying at my aunt’s home and not knowing the whereabouts of my mother,” she said.

“I then followed the instructions of my aunt and did what she wanted me to do but I knew it was wrong.”

She alleged her aunt — who died last year — had used the rape case to “fight” with the Ndimande family.

“That was because, before, they suspected that Bongani raped my younger sister, but the family did not report it to the police” said Sithole.

She said during the trial she testified from a separate room and was later asked to come to the courtroom to point out her “attacker”.

“I went to the courtroom and pointed at him. I cried because I knew that I had lied about everything but everyone thought that I was crying because I was the victim.

“I have been living a painful life knowing that I made someone suffer in jail while he did nothing wrong to me.”

Sithole revealed that she had made an emotional visit to Ndimande in prison last week. “I could not look into his eyes. I was ashamed and feeling regretful knowing that he is innocent but he is there because of me,” she said.

Mzwandile Ndimande said he was “still confused” as to how his brother could have been jailed.

He said his brother’s pain at missing their parents’ final years and their funerals “will not be measured”. “While he was in prison our father passed away in 2009, and our mother in 2011, and he could not attend their funerals. My children are growing up not knowing him. He missed out on a lot in life” said the Mzwandile.

However, he said Ndimande had managed to study inside prison, and was now in Grade 11.

“He showed me his report. He was doing very well. He is doing traditional dancing, and arts and craft to keep himself busy,” he said.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson did not respond to questions regarding Sithole’s revelation.

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