Durban - A young woman who accuses senior advocate Mike Govindasamy of indecently assaulting and raping her was adamant on Tuesday that he had committed the crimes.
But she is facing a tough credibility challenge from Govindasamy, who says she suffers from serious personality disorders, lies to get attention and once laid a false charge of housebreaking for which she was later charged with perjury.
Govindasamy, 57, a senior counsel at the Durban Bar, has pleaded not guilty before Durban High Court Judge Fikile Mokgohloa to charges that he indecently assaulted the woman in 2007, when she was about 17, and raped her in 2010, when she was 19.
She alleges that both incidents occurred in Govindasamy’s bedroom in his home in Effingham Heights. The indecent assault, she alleges, occurred while she slept between him and his wife, and the rape while she slept on a mattress in their bedroom.
Govindasamy, in his plea explanation read out by his advocate, Murray Pitman, admitted that the woman had slept in the bed with him and his wife, but said this had been “at her insistence and persistence”.
He said she suffered from histrionic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder, characterised by excessive emotionality and attention-seeking, persistent manipulative behaviour and “an overwhelming predisposition to lie and fabricate incidents”.
He said the false housebreaking charge had been laid to cover up that she had used money given to her by her father for other things, and she had falsely implicated her flatmate.
She had told the police investigating the matter that she was from England, that her surname was Lombaardt, that she had no relatives here, and that she was doing her Master’s in law.
She had been charged with perjury and defeating the ends of justice, but the charges had been withdrawn on “humanitarian grounds” because of a report by a psychologist.
“She currently drives around Cape Town in the latest model Range Rover, which costs about R1 million, and rents an upmarket apartment in Camps Bay, where rentals are more than R25 000 a month… she has been questioned by her family about this… because she is still a student and unemployed.
“She says she is being supported by a godmother in England… this is clearly a lie, but she refuses to divulge any further details, and her family is concerned she may be involved in money laundering and other illicit conduct.”
He said that she had laid “false charges” against him because he had threatened to expose her “lascivious and unbecoming conduct” as a “tequila girl” in a Cape Town nightclub.
During her evidence on Tuesday, the woman was asked by state advocate Dorian Paver what she would say if it was suggested to her that she was telling lies.
She replied: “It happened. He raped me.”
She conceded that since her mother’s death she had manipulated her father and lied to him on many occasions to get what she wanted.
Regarding the false housebreaking charge, she said her housemate had let her down by giving her money for rent, then sneaking into her room and taking it back. She had wanted to get him into trouble.
Regarding the alleged rape in 2010, she said she had reported what had been done to her to a relative within hours of the incident.
Two days later she had been admitted to hospital with suspected meningitis and, while consulting a psychologist there, had “let slip” what had happened. The psychologist had told her father. After the incident she had felt lonely, had not trusted people and had alienated most of her friends.
“I was drinking a lot. I did not want what happened to slip out to anyone else like it did with the psychologist.”
The case continues on Wednesday.