The Bolobedu Magistrate’s Court in Kgapane, outside Modjadjiskloof in Limpopo, was a hive of protest activity this week after an angry community demonstrated against gender-based violence for the first appearance of a 58-year-old man accused of raping a 14-year-old girl recently.
The accused, an ANC councillor in the Greater Letaba municipality, is accused of raping the girl a fortnight ago after he gave her a lift to a shopping complex. Police said after the alleged rape, the councillor allegedly drove her home and gave her R20 and a cellphone.
The cellphone belonged to the municipality. A source at the municipality, also living in Bolobedu, said the councillor promised the girl that he would give her more money the following day, when he would be taking back the phone as it was municipal property.
“But when he finally went to see the girl the following day, he had no money with him,” said the source. “The girl refused to give him the phone and he started to threaten her. He then fabricated a story, claiming she had stolen the phone and he said he was going to the police station to lay a charge.
“The girl’s mother, who was at the house, saw the two swearing at each other and went outside to investigate. The girl then told her mother that the councillor had raped her the previous day and gave her R20 and a cellphone. The suspect and victim met at the police station where they opening cases of theft and rape respectively.”
The ANC Women’s League and other citizens filled the court when the councillor appeared. Among them was former Mopani ANC regional treasurer and now MEC for social development and party provincial executive committee member Nkakareng Rakgoale. Rakgoale led the disgruntled women, who sang and danced to protest songs, appealing to the court to keep the councillor behind bars.
“We are sick and tired of men who prey on young girls and children. We are also sick and tired of men who practice gender-based violence in the communities in which they live. Men who abuse, rape, maim and kill women and children must be put behind bars for a very long time,” said Rakgoale.
Other women at the court accused the ANC in the sub-region of failing to take action against the councillor since his arrest.
“We have waited for weeks now for council to sit so that we can discuss the future of this man. In line with the Nasrec resolutions, anyone accused of committing crime must step aside. But that did not happen after his arrest,” said one aggrieved woman.
Municipal spokesperson Lovers Maenetja said the councillor was asked to step aside by the political management team, which appointed a stand-in in his position. The case was postponed until 19 November.