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Ex-principal acquitted of all rape charges

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Supporters of former primary school principal Desmond Makhanya carry him from the Scottburgh Regional Court on Tuesday as they celebrate his acquittal on rape and sexual assault charges. Picture: Jacques Naude

Durban - Former South Coast primary school principal Desmond Makhanya, who was charged with raping and sexually assaulting some of his pupils, was raised aloft by supporters after he was acquitted of all charges on Tuesday.

A jubilant Makhanya hugged his attorney, Anand Nepaul, after he was found not guilty on 10 charges by magistrate Veliswa Dube in the Scottburgh Regional Court.

Makhanya was charged with four counts of rape, five counts of sexual assault and one count of exposure. The girls came forward after a sexual awareness campaign was held at the school.

Makhanya pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed the false allegations were part of a plot to get him removed from his post. Speaking outside court yesterday, Makhanya, who was dismissed as a result of the case, said he would fight to get his job back.

“My focus now is to be reinstated. I would like to thank God and my family.

“My wife has been very supportive and strong throughout this difficult time.”

Magistrate Dube found that the State witnesses, especially the two alleged victims, had been unreliable.

“They were single, child witnesses and were the only witnesses that implicated the accused (Makhanya). Their evidence was not corroborated by other State witnesses and was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions.”

She said the main complainant, who alleged she was raped four times, had contradicted herself when she testified and the second complainant had also kept changing her evidence.

The State only led the evidence of two pupils as one of the other girls refused to testify.

The remaining pupil and five other State witnesses could not be traced.

Dube added that key witness Ladyfair Sibiya, a child safety officer at Operation Bobbi Bear – an organisation which works with sexually abused children – had been evasive and attempted to hide crucial matters from the court.

She also criticised the evidence of Dr VB Mohammed who had examined the main complainant and concluded there was possible penetration.

She said Mohammed conceded during cross-examination that she could not dispute the findings of defence expert Reggie Perumal that the complainant was “a textbook virgin”, and that alleged tears could have been caused by the use of tampons.

Dube said the court could rely on Perumal’s opinion because he was an “impartial and objective” witness.

Perumal testified that Mohammed’s findings were improbable and the medical evidence did not corroborate the allegations made by the victim.

Nepaul said they would consider suing the health department for damages as it was Mohammed’s medical report, which was found to be unreliable, that led to Makhanya being prosecuted.

“It is concerning that a report of that nature was placed before the court.”

The Mercury


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