A witness said he heard “sounds” coming from a lake in Rhodes Park, and when he stood on a crate to see over a wall, he said he saw a man drowning.
Thomas Rivombo was testifying on Thursday in the matter of three men accused of rape, robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder, which is being heard in the high court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court.
The drowning man and his colleague had earlier been walking in the park with their wives when they were accosted by a large gang of men. The gang forced the two men into the lake before attacking their wives. One woman was raped, and the other was sexually assaulted.
In the dock were three accused – Thabo Nkala, 25, Admore Ndlov, 23, and Mduduzi Mathibela Lawrence, 32 – who have been linked to the attack and have been charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape and murder.
“There was sound coming from the lake; the person sounded like he was drowning and had water in his mouth. I took a crate and stood over the wall,” recounted Rivombo.
“I saw a person’s head inside the lake, and there were bubbles formed around that person.”
Rivombo said he called out to the person and asked what was wrong, but he didn’t get any response.
“I rushed to our treasurer and explained what I saw and asked him if I could call the police, and he told me that his phone was flat.
“The reason I didn’t use my phone immediately was because I only had R5 airtime, and I was afraid it would run out while police are asking me questions.”
Rivombo said he rushed back to the scene. On his way there, he met a woman who told him she had been raped. Soon after, another woman appeared. The women said the men in the lake were their husbands.
Prosecutor Mutuwa Nengovhela asked Rivombo what state the victims were in when he saw them. He replied: “The first victim I came across was crying, but she managed to explain what happened. The second one was hysterical, rolling on the ground and simultaneously praying that God saves her husband’s life.”
Rivombo said he called his cousin, a police officer at Cleveland Police Station and reported the matter.
Both women have testified how they were attacked by the gang on October 17, 2015, while strolling in the park.
The women told the court they were robbed and their husbands were stripped naked and their clothes were used to tie their hands before being forced to go into the lake.
They were left in the company of two men while their husbands were being forced into the lake.
“The one carrying a knife came to me, and the gunman went to my friend. My attacker tried numerous times to penetrate me with his penis, but he failed because his penis was soft, and then he said I must insert it, but I also couldn’t,” said one of the women in her testimony earlier this week.
“He then used his fingers. Ater he was done he got up, and when I looked on the side, I saw my friend being raped by the gunman.”
Nkala, Ndlovu and Lawrence all pleaded not guilty to all charges. The other gang members are still on the run.
The trial continues.
– African News Agency (ANA)