'Guilty, not guilty, guilty' - 'confused' rape accused disrupts court

2018-10-12 17:17
Western Cape High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Western Cape High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Court proceedings involving one of the taxi drivers accused of kidnapping and raping several women took a dramatic twist in the South Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge on Friday.

Lebogang Gift Mokoena changed his plea three times: first to guilty, then to not guilty, and later again to guilty.

Initially, Mokoena, 28, pleaded guilty to 46 of the 51 charges he is charged with.

He then pleaded not guilty to two counts of kidnapping, one of pointing of an object that resembles a firearm, one count of robbery, one of sexual assault and one count of assault.

After a brief court adjournment Mokoena, through his lawyer, advocate Sabelo Nobangule, told the court that he intended changing his not guilty plea on the six counts.

When the counts were read to him, he again pleaded not guilty, forcing Judge Cassim Moosa to adjourn court for a second time to allow Nobangule to consult with Mokoena.

When the court resumed for the third time, Mokoena pleaded guilty to five of the counts, while the count of assault was withdrawn by the prosecutor, advocate Rolene Bester.

Seven counts of aiding and abetting another to commit a sexual offence and one of assault were also withdrawn.

Mokoena has pleaded guilty to 13 counts of rape, eight of kidnapping, nine of robbery, nine of pointing an object that resembles a firearm, two of aiding and abetting someone to commit a sexual offence and one of sexual assault.

During the hearing, a visibly shaken Mokoena removed his jacket and kept wiping sweat from his forehead, shaking his head.

'Confused with the many charges'

Nobangule explained her client's behaviour to the court: "My client indicated to me during consultations that the charges were many and he gets confused."

She told the court that Mokoena had not been influenced by anyone to plead guilty and that he understood the charges.

Bester intends to provide the court with a victim-impact report.

The report will detail how the victims have been affected by the alleged crimes.

Moosa will decide on Monday whether to accept or reject Mokoena's guilty pleas.

News24 has been reliably informed that Mokoena had threatened to commit suicide in prison.

He allegedly told police during his first appearance that he was awaiting his conviction and would take his own life because he wouldn't stand being in prison.

On Thursday, the court separated the trials against Mokoena and his 30-year-old co-accused.

The co-accused, who hasn't pleaded yet, disputes the bulk of the charges. He is expected to appear at a pre-trial conference in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg next week Friday before a different judge.

Reign of terror

The duo allegedly went on a rampage across Gauteng, travelling in a Toyota Quantum minibus taxi.

They allegedly terrorised female passengers by kidnapping, raping and robbing them in various parts of the province. In some instances, victims were forced to hand over their bank cards and PINs and the men would later withdraw cash from the women's accounts.

Other victims were allegedly raped by one of the accused while his accomplice drove the taxi.

Their alleged reign of terror began on September 26, 2016, and ended on October 12, 2017.

They were arrested in Soweto on October 23 last year.

Five days later, they were reportedly positively identified by victims during a police identity parade.

The offences took place in parts of Johannesburg, Soweto, Alberton, Germiston, Vosloorus and Brixton.

ALSO READ: ‘My girl’s taxi trauma’

Read more on:    courts  |  gender violence

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