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A DURBAN faith healer, chided by a court for his “despicable” conduct in having sex with a woman who came to him for help, has been acquitted of rape.
Ahmed Rajab Mohomed walked out of the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday a free man after being found not guilty of raping a Phoenix mother who wanted him to rid her house of evil spirits.
But magistrate Anand Maharaj said he was not too happy handing down the verdict.
“I didn’t acquit you because I think you’re innocent. I acquitted you because the law requires me to do so, and the fact that the evidence, unfortunately, did not measure up to what the law requires,” he told Mohomed.
“That’s the only reason you are walking out of here with that verdict.”
Maharaj said Mohomed, who faced two counts of rape, should consider himself lucky.
Mohomed, 37, had pleaded not guilty, claiming the sex was consensual.
The complainant had testified that Mohomed had visited her home on June 16, 2011.
Her husband, a policeman, had helped Mohomed from 9pm that night to burn lobaan (an incense) throughout the house to rid it of the “evil wind”.
The couple had testified that at about 11pm Mohomed had asked the husband to leave with their son because the evil wind would affect him.
After checking that his wife was comfortable with this, he then left with their son for his mother’s house.
The woman had testified that Mohomed asked her to go into the bedroom to get a clean bed sheet. She claimed that he then asked her to take off her clothes and put on a red silk nightdress, which she did.
She then became numb, she said, and that was when Mohomed allegedly raped her.
The policeman had testified that he had later returned. The next morning, he said, she appeared withdrawn and complained of abdominal pains and said her entire body was sore.
He called Mohomed to ask what the cause was and he apparently said it was like giving birth and that she should wait a while.
The policeman said his wife told him she was able to manage the pain and refused to go to the doctor because there was no one to look after their child.
The court had heard that the husband had taken a swab as he felt something was not right and that Mohomed might have sexually assaulted her.
Maharaj said the complainant’s husband only learnt the details of what happened that night when the criminal case was opened.
Mohomed had chosen not to testify and the court called the investigating officer, Captain Sam Naidoo, to give evidence.
Naidoo had said he had searched Mohomed’s premises and did not find the nightdress or the bed sheet, but did find paraphernalia suggesting that Mohomed was a faith healer.
Prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay argued for a conviction, while defence lawyer, advocate Jay Naidoo, argued that the evidence was not up to the required standard of proof – beyond reasonable doubt – and had asked for Mohomed to be acquitted.
Maharaj said Mohomed’s conduct on the day was highly suspicious in that he was called to assist the family with the problems being experienced, but “nonetheless ended up having sexual intercourse with the complainant and in all probability taking advantage of her naive state”.
“However despicable his conduct may have been, a mere suspicion, strong as it might be, is not enough to obtain a conviction,” he said. “Convictions based on suspicion or speculation (are) the hallmark of a tyrannical system of law.”
Maharaj said the complainant had come across as an articulate and intelligent witness but, on her own version, had doubt about what had happened that night.
She also failed to report the incident immediately to her husband, a police officer, or see a doctor immediately despite having abdominal pains, he said.
The magistrate also mentioned the long delay in reporting the incident.
“The question I had to ask myself is whether the shortcomings highlighted in the State’s case measure up to the threshold of proof beyond reasonable doubt. After consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is not,” he said. “For these reasons, the accused is found not guilty on both counts.”
Maharaj told Mohomed that had he been convicted, there was no doubt he would have been given a lengthy prison sentence. “So I’m certainly not filled with any joy to have to let you go,” he said. “Unfortunately, that is the way that the system operates. Count yourself lucky.” - Daily News