Thursday, 1 June 2006

Belgian student tells of gang-rape ordeal

Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

June 01 2006 at 08:26AM

She had been in the country for only a few days when her world changed - she was gang-raped on what was supposed to be a festive evening in Soweto.

Then only 17 years old and a virgin, the Belgian exchange student had accompanied her host family to a street party in Mapetla, Soweto, on August 13 last year. Her request to use a toilet led to her being kidnapped and raped.

This was how the girl recounted her ordeal in the Johannesburg High Court, where five men are charged with kidnapping, robbing and raping her. Wandile Dondolo, 25, Moeketsi Mokoena, 25, Sibusiso Mkhize, 20, and Xolani Letuke, 24, all of Mapetla, and Mandla Dlamini, 25, of Thokoza in Ekurhuleni, have denied all the charges against them.

All the accused, except Letuke - who is linked to the offence through DNA - have offered no plea explanation. Letuke said he had consensual sex with the complainant.

'If you scream, we are going to kill you'

The complainant said she had attended the party with four members of her host family. At the party she needed to use the toilet, and Mkhize and Dlamini directed her to a house opposite where the party was held.

When she finished, the two were waiting outside the toilet.

"They said they had a friend who wanted to meet me, and I said I wanted to go back to the party. They insisted that I meet their friend, and I went back to the street," she said, adding that they pushed her against a wall and started dragging her.

"I said I don't want to meet this friend. They said 'If you scream, we are going to kill you'."

She told the court that while the men dragged her across the veld, her cellphone rang, but they didn't allow her to answer it. Mkhize and Dlamini then dragged her to a house, but didn't switch on the lights.

'I told them I was still a virgin and they shouldn't do this'

"I started begging them to let me go. They said they would let me go if I give them my cellphone and money. They didn't let me go as promised (after she complied). I told them I'm from Belgium and that the Belgian government will punish them," she said, adding that it was clear to her that they wanted to rape her because they pushed her onto a bed.

"I told them I was still a virgin and they shouldn't do this, but they seemed more excited," she said, adding that Mkhize had held her tight while Dlamini pulled off her shoes and pants.

"He (Dlamini) pulled out my pants and came on top of me. He started raping me," she said.

The complainant said three more men entered the room and one of them came over and started raping her as well.

After a third man started raping her, there were loud knocks at the front door and her assailants left the bedroom.

Mkhize told her to keep quiet and ordered her to put on her jeans. Police then stormed the house and rescued her. Dondolo, Mokoena and Mkhize were arrested at the scene, while Letuke and Dlamini managed to escape.

The trial continues.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on June 01, 2006


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