Gang-rape accused in court

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IOL news apr 20 ST gangrape952 (24747260) INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Five of the seven males suspected of gang-raping a 17-year-old Soweto girl walk to the Roodepoort Magistrates Court. File Photo: Chris Collingridge

Three men and four youths accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old mentally disabled girl from Soweto appeared in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

The case against the three men - one of them aged 18 and two of 19 years old - was postponed until June 20 for further investigation.

Bail applications by the youths - one aged 13 and three aged 17 - were postponed until May 3.

The State was opposing bail, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told reporters outside the court.

The men did not apply for bail.

“In terms of the law, they (the men) can bring forward a bail application any time before their next appearance,” Mhaga said. “This is a very serious offence,” he said.

The seven, who matched the descriptions of the rapists shown in a cellphone video of the attack, were arrested in Dobsonville, Soweto on April 17.

The video went viral on the internet on April 18, and was one of the main topics trending on social networking site Twitter.

Earlier, the NPA announced that three of the four youths would face full prosecution.

“All the accused persons, including the three minors, will appear in court together, they will not be diverted (to a programme for young offenders),” Mhaga said.

“In respect of the fourth minor, the 13-year-old, we still have to determine his criminal capacity. Remember, between the ages of seven and 14 they are presumed to be criminally incapable.”

A group of protesters from political parties and rights organisations gathered outside the court on Wednesday in support of the girl and her family. The girl's older sister was in court.

“They (the seven accused) will be facing several counts of rape, sexual assault, engaging sexual services of a minor for a reward, using a minor to create child pornography, committing a sexual act in the presence of a minor and committing a sexual act in the presence of an adult,” Mhaga said.

“They will also be facing charges that relate to the contravention of the Films and Publications Act, which is creating, possession (of) and distributing child porn.”

The courtroom was packed ahead of the bail hearing, but was cleared when proceedings started in camera, because of the children involved. - Sapa


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