Zuma wife joins Scottburgh picket to support rape victim (7)

2012-08-01 00:00

ONE of South Africa’s first ladies sang and danced with protesters outside the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court yesterday in support of a young rape victim.

Thobeka Madiba Zuma and more than 30 members from her foundation belted out her husband President Jacob Zuma’s favourite struggle song, Umshini Wami.

Then they packed the regional courtroom in a show of support for a seven-year-old boy from Umgababa on the South Coast, who was raped, allegedly by a teenage neighbour, in November 2010. The victim was only five at the time.

Zuma told how she had taken the child and his granny under her wing after a chance meeting at the GJ Crookes Hospital in Scottburgh. She said the boy was in a lot of pain. His emotional granny was also there and her heart went out to them.

Zuma said she had developed a close bond with the child. During adjournments in the matter, he gravitated toward her and wanted to be close.

The boy testified with a social worker from a special child-friendly witness room adjoining the court. He told how he was taken into a shack by a neighbour, now 19, who allegedly forced him to lie on the floor before raping him. Asked if he would recognise his attacker if he saw him again, he said: “Yes, I would see him and run away.”

His reply brought everyone, including the first lady, to tears. The magistrate assured the child that he was safe and no one could harm him.

Then, accompanied by his grandmother and the social worker, he

entered the courtroom to point out the alleged rapist.

Standing on bench against a wall inside the court, the boy pointed directly at the accused.

The child’s grandmother, who has been his guardian since birth, also took the stand.

She testified how the child had vomited and was in constant pain night of the attack.

She had assumed her grandchild was suffering from a viral infection. “The next morning he told me, ‘Grandma, I was injured’.”

After enquiring about his injuries, the child asked his grandmother to come closer.

“He said he wanted to tell me in my ear because if he [accused] heard, then he will kill him [child].” The victim was taken to a clinic and referred to hospital immediately. He stayed there for three days and received antiretrovirals.

The trial was postponed until August 24 for further investigation. The accused, who was arrested a day after the rape, is out on bail.

Outside court, Zuma said she was happy proceedings had finally started and added her presence was not intended to influence the court.

“My presence here is to show support to all vulnerable people and to say that enough is enough.

“It is also to tell the courts that we are watching you closely and these matters cannot just keep getting rolled over. They need to be resolved and justice must prevail.”

The KZN ANC Women’s League also came out in support.

Chairperson Celiwe Whezi Madlopha said rape was a “moral issue” and needed every community member to stand up against it.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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