Judge to rule on rape victims' testimony in court

Every raped woman is still confronted by the problem of testifying in an open court, Johannesburg High Court Judge George Maluleke said on Wednesday, following an application by the state to have the evidence of dozens of women allegedly raped by Mongezi Samuel Jinxela heard in camera.

“There are many difficulties in making a blanket or in camera order, especially when considering the fact that all rape victims face the same problems,” he said.

In her application, state advocate Louisa Loots called on investigating officer Captain Zakhele Zwane to tell the court that the women are not at ease testifying in a court full of members of the public.

Zwane said the women are still traumatised by the incident and that some have carved new lives for themselves and prefer not to let their spouses know about the rape that happened years ago.

“One of the women is now a public figure and she does not want people going to court to check her out.”

Some women have since tested HIV-positive, and are not prepared to divulge their status to the general public.

Cross-examining Zwane, Jinxela’s advocate, Harold Knopp, said it is in the interests of his client’s right to a fair trial to have the matter heard in an open court.

Loots intends calling in a trauma counsellor who will testify on the extent of the women’s plight.

It is only then that the judge will decide whether the matter should be heard in full view of the public or in camera.

Jinxela is accused of raping 70 women and committing another 191 offences, including robbery, indecent assault, assault and kidnapping, between 1994 and 2004.

He allegedly lured the women to deserted places, telling them his employer had a vacancy for a female person. He would then take them to mine dumps and fields where he allegedly raped and robbed them of their possessions such as jewellery, cellphones, handbags and money.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, including one of escaping from lawful custody in 2004.

Maluleke postponed the matter provisionally to Monday afternoon, because one of his assessors would not be available on Thursday.—Sapa


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