News channel eNCA has reported that a high-ranking official in the office of Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha will no longer be appearing in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court today for allegedly raping a 30-year-old woman from Botswana.
The charge was reportedly dropped, while a countercharge of extortion has also been withdrawn.
Limpopo police confirmed yesterday the man was arrested on Saturday morning after the woman laid the charge against him.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojalefa said the suspect, who could not be named until he appeared in court, allegedly raped the woman at an exclusive hotel in Polokwane on Friday night.
Sources claimed the alleged incident took place during a drinking binge in one of the rooms at the hotel.
The woman is said to be part of the support staff for the Botswana soccer team, which had come to Limpopo to participate in the 2018 Cosafa Cup tournament.
The tournament ends in Polokwane on June 9.
“The woman went to the police station and reported the case against this high-profile official,” said a source who claimed knowledge of the incident.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Mojapelo said that after the alleged rape, the suspect opened a countercharge of extortion against the victim at the same police station.
Yesterday, the rape suspect’s sympathisers said the timing of the incident was a serious blow
for Mathabatha’s administration and his position as ANC provincial chairperson.
They said the incident could hamper Mathabatha’s chances of being re-elected at the party’s hotly contested elective conference next month.
“The mere fact that the suspect laid a countercharge of extortion against the victim could mean there is more to it than meets the eye,” said an ANC official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of victimisation.
The Democratic Alliance said it was disturbed by the allegations.
DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle said they were against any form of abuse.
“But we hold a belief that one is innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law,” he said.
Also yesterday, the EFF said the rape allegations against the official was denting and minimising the chances for Limpopo to hold future soccer games of continental and international interest.
“This man is the face of the province and a role model to many,” said EFF acting provincial chairperson Rendani Munyai.
“If Mathabatha loves the province so much, then he will suspend this official and allow investigations to roll freely.”
Mathabatha said in a statement: “These allegations are serious in their nature. We call on all the people of the province and beyond to give us space to get to the bottom of this. You will also understand that one is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law.”