Friday, 1 February 2008

Family's ordeal still far from over

Zelda Venter

January 31 2008 at 09:14AM

The nightmare ordeal of a Randburg family, whose much awaited holiday turned into a hijacking and rape orgy nearly four years ago, is not over yet as the fourth member of the gang that allegedly attacked them is due to be tried in the Pretoria High Court this week.

The Grasmere toll plaza rapes along the N1 caused an outcry at the time. A woman was raped twice next to the road, having to look on helplessly while her then 14-year-old niece was being raped in a car.

The family left for the Eastern Cape at about 5am on March 31 2004. Their bakkie was pulled off the highway by a Camry packed with armed men as they drove through the toll plaza.

The men jumped out, screaming and shouting and firing shots at the bakkie. The court earlier heard during the trial of one of the attackers, Jacob Casper, that the family were pulled out of the bakkie and taken to the Camry.

'I will kill you, I will kill you'

They were told to climb in, but there was not enough space for everyone. The husband was pulled away, while one of the men shouted at him "I will kill you, I will kill you."

The man earlier testified that he fell down an embankment as he heard the two cars pull away. He walked to a compound and asked a security guard to phone the police.

When they eventually arrived he saw his wife and niece in the vehicle. They told him they had been raped.

More than a year ago Casper was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the attack. A second man received a 17-year jail sentence in Mozambique. The third man was shot dead by the police, while the fourth and last gang member, who was on the run, will go on trial this week.

James Langa, a Mozambican, is trying to have his trial postponed. The matter has already been postponed three times as Langa insisted on speaking to someone from the Mozambican consulate, as he wanted a legal representative from his home country.

When this was not possible an advocate was appointed by the Legal Aid Board.

He has demanded that the entire case docket be translated into Portuguese and wanted three months to study the newly translated docket. He claimed that was the only language he could understand and told the court the interpreter's Shangaan "is not my Shangaan".

Langa also dismissed his advocate during Wednesday afternoon's proceedings.

Acting Judge Chris Eksteen said this was clearly a delaying tactic.

He refused to have the docket translated, instead appointing both a Shangaan and Portuguese interpreter.

The two rape victims are waiting to be called to the stand. They said the whole ordeal was a nightmare and they just wanted to get it over.

The State was by late Wednesday afternoon still searching for a Portuguese interpreter.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on January 31, 2008


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