Waterloo community members opposing bail of a man who is accused of raping minors between the ages of five to 10 over the period of 2016 to 2017.A Verulam man accused of raping at least seven minors, between the age of five and 10, in Waterloo was denied bail at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Out of the seven victims, four charges have been laid against the accused, including the rape of his stepdaughter who has been residing with him at his girlfriend’s residence.
According to Philisiwe Mthembu, founder of Zithembiso Soup Kitchen Project, which services the vulnerable and provide counselling for abused children in the area, the news broke out after one of the victim’s father noticed that his child was having nightmares a week ago.
When he asked her about what was worrying her, the victim opened up about a neighbourhood man who had sexually abused her.
The matter was reported to the police the following day and the child was taken to a local hospital for a medical check-up. Nurses confirmed in writing that she had been raped.
Recounting their ordeals, each victim told a similar story. They alleged that the suspect gave them dagga to smoke, forced them to watch sex movie clips on his cellphone before sexually abusing them.
The suspect then threatened them that if they tell anyone about what transpired, he would kill them and their parents.
One victim revealed that the perpetrator had touched and kissed her and despite her pleas for him to stop, he continued to do this on more than one occasion.
During his hearing, a group of disgruntled community members as well as frustrated parents and grandparents filled the courtyard in solidarity to oppose bail.
Testifying before Magistrate Vish Naidoo, the 43-year-old accused appeared remorseless and was seen smiling during the court proceedings.
He denied all four counts of rape against him and testified that the first victim in the matter was injured by a sharp object on her private part while she was playing a sliding game on the road with friends.
Investigating officer, Sgt Pakkiri from the Phoenix Family, Violence and Child Protection and Sexual Offences, noted that because the victims were part of the accused’s congregation, they had regular trust in him that is why it was easy for him to lure them into his home.
Considering the seriousness of the case together with medical results, which confirmed that two minors were raped and the fact that victims admitted to the police and social workers, Sgt Pikkiri said the court must consider this as a strong case.
Nokuthula Maphumulo broke down in tears when she spoke about how her nine-year-old granddaughter has been affected after being raped.
DA ward councillor Johnson Chetty said he was touched deeply by the seriousness of the crime. He said working jointly with the community, they will do everything possible to see justice is done.
He urged parents to take responsibility for their infant children at all times. “The sexual assault of our vulnerable children by adults is a symptom of a sick society. As a society, it is incumbent on every person to be on the lookout for these perverts in our midst. The perpetrators must be removed from our communities,” he said.
In view that far too often criminals end up back on the streets due to a technicality, Cllr Chetty said people who prey on toddlers do not deserve leniency. He also made an appeal that leaders should take the lead in raising awareness of this scourge.
“All religious leaders should make it part of their social responsibility programme. Corporate companies need to roll out programmes to their employees. Teachers need to include sexual awareness in their curriculum and government has an obligation to ensure that our children are protected,” he said.