A 28-year-old man was found guilty of raping a mentally disabled woman who has the intellectual capacity of a toddler, the Port Elizabeth High Court ruled on Tuesday.
Nathan Fourie was acquitted on a charge of assaulting the woman’s uncle who had caught Fourie red handed with his pants pulled down, shortly after his niece was raped.
The rape occurred at a half built house a few meters away from a home in Bethelsdorp where the family had gathered to celebrate the woman’s sister’s 21st birthday on June 4 last year.
An uninvited Fourie had attended the celebration but both him and the woman had disappeared after which family and community members started to search for the woman.
The woman was discovered by her uncle after another family member heard her screaming. Looking at the medical evidence Judge Jannie Eksteen said that he had been compelled to draw the conclusion that the woman had been sexually penetrated.
“A person who is mentally disabled is unable to consent to sexual intercourse. The inescapable conclusion is that the complainant was raped,” he said.
During the trial Fourie had denied that he attended the birthday celebration and claimed that he had merely walked past the half built house and heard a woman calling his name.
He claimed that at first he ignored her calls but then later went inside where he saw the woman who did not look distressed in any way. Eksteen said that Fourie did not make a favourable impression in the witness box, adding that he frequently rubbed his hands together and avoided eye contact.
Eksteen found that there were a number of “profound improbabilities” and rejected Fourie’s version.
“Firstly the complainant with a severe mental disability who had never spoken to him before lured him into a dark alley, this strikes me as unordinary,” said Eksteen. Eksteen also criticized Fourie’s defence that the woman was raped before he went into the half built house as it contradicted his claim that she was calm when he met her.
The case was postponed until Wednesday for sentencing proceedings.