THE state has accepted liability in a law suit brought by a man who was raped at the age of 17 when locked in a police cell with a much older inmate. The rape took place in a cell that was occupied by three of the victim’s companions, the man told the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday. The victim, who has not been convicted of a crime, said his attacker ordered them to “go to sleep” while he placed his hand over the youth’s mouth, sodomised him in a corner of the cell and threatened to kill him if he told anyone. The rapist had earlier told the victim he was going to initiate him as a member of the “26” gang. The young victim, now 23 and unemployed, is suing the minister of Safety and Security [Police] for R920 000 in damages over the incident, which occurred in the Pongola police cells on October 7, 2007. The state has admitted liability in the case but the court is currently hearing evidence to determine the amount of the damages payable to the victim. Testifying before Judge Pete Koen in support of his damages claim yesterday, the victim said the rape had occurred after he was arrested for the very first time in his life after police found allegedly stolen property in his possession, which he said he had been asked to keep for a friend. He said at the police station he was initially left alone in the company of police officers who had assaulted him and accused him of being involved in mischief. The man said the police eventually returned to the station together with his friend and two other alleged co-perpetrators. All four of them were then locked in a cell with an “elderly man”. The victim said the man started to “chat” to them, asking their names. Later he called him over to his “side” of the cell. He said the man had said he would teach him the language of inmates and would initiate him as a member of the “26” gang. He had asked him to repeat the things he told him, which he did. “He said he was going to ask me questions later.” The young man said later the older prisoner called him over again and told the others that they should go sleep. He then ordered him to get closer to him and to undress. “I stripped and then he asked me if I remembered the things he told me. I recited these things to him. He then stood up, tearing the white T-shirt he had been wearing. He warned the others not to wake up and face this side.” The victim said his attacker had kept his hand over his mouth while raping him. The victim said he did not report the incident to the police out of fear, but one of his fellow inmates, who witnessed it, did. He had returned to school for about two weeks after the rape, but because his companions in the cell were also schoolmates, he had worried that they might tell others what had been done to him and that he would be made a “laughing stock”. He changed schools the following year. Clinical psychologist Zanele Khumalo testified yesterday that she concluded following an interview with the victim in 2012 that he was suffering from severe depression as well as post traumatic stress disorder. The case is proceeding.