Rape case weakened by tabloid coverage, says court

The case against four men accused of raping a Belgian pupil was weakened after a newspaper published their pictures before an identity parade could be held.

The four — Sibusiso Mkhize (19), Xolani Lituke (24), Moeketsi Mokoena (25) and Wandile Dondolo (26) — have so far refused to subject themselves to a line-up because the Daily Sun newspaper published photos of them after the incident.

The 17-year-old pupil was gang-raped on August 13 while attending a party in Mapetla, Soweto, with a friend.

The Protea Magistrate’s Court on Monday advised the four accused that the case against them has been weakened since their photographs were published.

“The reporter has messed up the case. The court can’t say if she [does] point you out, it’s because she saw you during the rape or because of the paper,” said the magistrate.

He warned them that their bail application will be delayed until the identity parade takes place.

“You are now in a much better position. I can tell you now that the identity parade won’t be worth much, you can thank your friends at the Sun for that.”

The magistrate ordered that an identity parade be conducted by September 5, when the four will reappear in court for a bail hearing.

Meanwhile, police are still searching for a fifth suspect.

“There are leads we are following up to now, but without much luck,” said police spokesperson Captain Mbazima Shiburi.

Themba Khumalo, the editor of the Daily Sun, told the Mail & Guardian Online on Monday: “We had good intentions publishing the story and the way we ran it. We had no intention to weaken any case.

“As the Daily Sun, we hate rape. Our sympathies are always with the victims. We are always 100% on the side of the victims. We are hoping that justice will run its course.”

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