Gym ‘rape’ evidence weighed

Copy of cw Virgin Active 0779 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Police have yet to arrest a teen suspected of raping a 15-year-old girl at a Virgin Active in Westville. File photo: Leon Lestrade

Durban - A week after the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl at Westville’s Virgin Active, a decision to press charges against the alleged attacker is pending. He has, however, been banned for life from all Virgin Active gyms.

The suspect was banned after the girl reportedly told police that the man, a gym member, raped her in a disabled bathroom stall on Saturday, August 16.

Virgin Active spokeswoman Kathy Malherbe confirmed the incident and said the gym was co-operating fully with police.

“Virgin Active provided the SAPS with the alleged rapist’s full details and officers on the case have obtained a statement from the suspect. Virgin Active has banned the member for life and made available CCTV footage to support the legal process to follow. The member and her family have been offered - and accepted - counselling,” she said.

NPA spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson said the senior public prosecutor received the docket on Friday. It would have to be studied before a decision was taken, she said.

The teen was examined by a district surgeon and, according to police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane, a case of rape was opened for investigation by Westville police.

“The suspect was interviewed and a warning statement given. The docket was taken to the senior State prosecutor for a decision.”

A warning statement is one issued by police to warn the accused of his or her rights in terms of Section 35 of the constitution. Police have viewed the CCTV footage from the gym which captured some of the interaction between the two.

The mood at the Westville gym this week was no different to any other week, according to gymgoers.

A man who identified himself only as “Mike” said, “I keep to myself at the gym, but I haven’t seen any changes in the mood there. It’s been just like last week or the week before. The only thing I’ve noticed is that there has been a bit of speculation about the incident - who might have been involved and what actually happened.”

A small group of teenage boys from Westville High School were approached outside the gym. They asked not to be named.

“We’ve never heard of anything like this happening before. No one hooks up at the gym. People are talking about what happened because it’s been in the news, but we haven’t noticed any changes at the gym,” said one.

“I think this was an isolated incident,” said his friend.

Malherbe said gymgoers had no need to worry for their safety, and called the incident “unprecedented”.

“We would like to assure all our members that their safety at Virgin Active remains a top priority and every precaution is taken to ensure our health clubs are safe. We are extremely fortunate that our clubs are extensively covered by CCTV cameras. This includes the corridors outside disabled toilet facilities, which have a panic button facility.”

- Sunday Tribune



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