How to catch a rapist

2012-10-16 00:00

QUICK-THINKING neighbours, an observant gardener and swift police action have led to the arrest of a man in connection with the recent rape of a 91-year-old woman in Hayfields.

The 36-year-old was arrested by the Pietermaritzburg cluster tracking team at a beer hall in Retief Street on Friday night.

He appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday on charges of housebreaking with intent to rob; robbery with aggravating circumstances, as well as the rape. He allegedly gained entry to the victim’s house by threatening her with a hammer and made off with a wristwatch, computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and R300 in cash.

She had previously given him food when he had come begging at her gate.

The breakthrough in the case came on the day of the crime, October 5, after a resident in the Hayfields area invited the police to view CCTV footage from his house, according to a source close to the investigation.

The source said once the footage was viewed, a gardener at the victim’s home was also invited to view the footage and he immediately identified the suspect by name and surname.

“The gardener told us that the man, who is from the Edendale area, had been to the victim’s home more than once, begging for food, and the victim would provide him with food,” said the source.

On the day of the arrest, the suspect denied ever being in Hayfields, saying that he did not even know where the area was.

But during an identity parade the next day (Saturday), the victim positively identified the suspect as her attacker.

The state opposed bail and the case was postponed to October 31 for a formal bail application.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said the suspect had a previous conviction and was released on parole about two months ago. She said he was arrested for housebreaking and theft.

“We urge senior citizens residing alone not to open their homes to strangers. When employing gardeners, people should ask for the person’s identity document and keep a copy for future reference. If you find a stranger at your gate, call the police so that the stranger can be questioned,” said Jeevan.

Meanwhile, the case of a 29-year-old man from Ezakheni C-section, Ladysmith, was yesterday postponed to Thursday for further investigation.

The man was arrested for allegedly raping the 84-year-old grandmother of his girlfriend last week. The woman was also at home alone when she was raped.

Gender officer at Emnambithi/Ladysmith municipality, Ayanda Magadla, said there seemed to have been a communication breakdown between the social workers and the investigation officer, hence the decision by Ezakheni magistrate to postpone the matter.

“It appeared in court that the social workers had taken the victim to a safe place without communicating with the investigating officer. This therefore led to the investigator being unable to make contact with the victim. As the gender office we urge all stakeholders to work together in cases like this so as to ensure the speedy conviction of rape suspects,” said Magadla.

The Witness reported that the suspect went back to the woman’s house after accompanying his girlfriend to a family function in another part of Ladysmith.

When the woman opened the door for the suspect, who had pretended to have come back to fetch some money which was left behind by his girlfriend, the man raped the woman four times. She was found by neighbours walking in the street naked and when questioned, told the people about her ordeal. The suspect was found hiding in the outside toilet at the victim’s property.

CCTV puts rape suspect at the scene

Pensioners warned: After two rapes of elderly women, police urge citizens not to trust strangers

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