Uber rape trial: Witness tells court she played dead

(iStock)
(iStock)

One of the complainants in what has become known as the Uber gang rape trial, told the Gauteng High Court, sitting in Palm Ridge, that she pretended she was dead so that the perpetrators would leave her where they had dumped her.

The woman, who cannot be identified, is the second complainant in the case in which 26-year-old Mmotlane Elias Mankgane and his three co-accused; Daniel Maswikaneng, Sikhosana Bonga and Themba Mkuwanazi are accused of committing several crimes in 2016, using the Uber app as a means to capture victims.

Women who requested a ride would allegedly be met by Mankgane and his co-accused, who would allegedly rob, rape and attempt to murder some of them.

ALSO READ: Uber rape trial: 'He pulled out a knife and turned around' - witness testifies

The witness used the Uber app at Montecasino Fourways on July 6, 2016 at about 22:00.

It is alleged that Mankgane arrived to pick her up and that Maswikaneng and Mkuwanazi were hiding in the boot.

She told the court her story: "I climbed into the front passenger seat.

"I didn't check the registration against the one shown on the app. I was tired and anxious, and I just wanted to go home. So, when he called me by name, I just assumed it was the correct driver."

But she realised that something was wrong when the driver accelerated past her preferred turn to go home. Before she knew it, there were two male passengers in the back seat.

"Next thing I knew there was a scuffling noise and I was being strangled by my neck with a man's tie. The driver was definitely not strangling me. It was someone else.

The men then proceeded to put her in the boot of the car. 

The court heard that the accused robbed her of her bank cards and PIN code and drove with her to various locations until she could feel that they were driving over a field before coming to a stop.

ALSO READ: Victims in Uber rape trial to institute civil action

"I remember some discussion and the doors opening. Accused Number One was speaking to the other two and I felt him coming into the back seat.

"He (Mankgane ) proceeded to touch my breasts, squeeze them and then touched the area around my vagina.

"He then put his fingers inside my vagina, removed them and raped me without any protection. It didn't last very long, maybe five minutes."

"The other two were quiet until it was all over," she added.

Mankgane allegedly put her in the boot again.

"They then drove a little further, stopped and then opened the boot. One took me by my arms and the other my legs. They swung me and threw me out into the air down an embankment on the side of the road," she said.

She recalled playing dead so that the accused would leave her at that location.

The witness was testifying on the fourth day of the trial and is one of two women who plan to institute civil proceedings against ridesharing service Uber.

The attorney representing the two victims, Ulrich Roux, said civil action against Uber would be instituted next month.

"As it is clear that the horrific crimes committed against our clients, as well as the other victims referred to in the charge sheet, were as a direct result of Uber's lack of internal controls in verifying their drivers," Roux said in a statement.

The trial continues.

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