Johannesburg - Not guilty! As magistrate Audrey Mpofu uttered these words in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, tears rolled down the cheeks of some in the public gallery.
For the two women who had been accused of raping and sexually assaulting two 17-year-old mentally challenged boys, the verdict brought relief.
“I’ve suffered for too long,” said the mother and guardian of the two women, shedding a tear while being hugged and comforted by relatives after Mpofu’s verdict.
Her 27-year-old daughter had been charged with sexual assault and assault, while the minor she takes care of faced charges of rape. The woman and her 27-year-old daughter cannot be named to protect the identity of the minor.
It was alleged that the boys were raped and sexually assaulted by the teenage girl and her SANDF clerk relative last year near their home in White City, Soweto. One of the boys’ relatives learnt of the alleged incident after the boy told them what had happened.
The boys alleged that one of the accused met them at the gate of her house, took them inside her house, and made one of the boys have sex with her, telling him they were making a baby.
A friend of his, the other mentally challenged boy, confirmed the story.
But on Thursday, Mpofu found the two not guilty on all the charges, saying the boy who was allegedly raped had struggled to answer questions during cross-examination.
She said that if DNA tests had been taken, it would have been easier to assess evidence.
Mpofu also stated that an educational psychologist testified that the boys’ mental capacities were of the ages of six and eight, but that their sexual knowledge belied this. She related how one of the boys described sexual intercourse to the court.
“Accused one asked the other boy to undress his trousers and expose his private parts…”
She said the boy’s testimony in court revealed someone whose mental capacity was above the six and eight years the court that the court had been told about.
Mpofu said the state had a duty to prove that the accused were guilty, and that the evidence was not put in perspective.
Speaking to The Star after judgment, the women’s defence attorney, Freddie Silamulela, said the verdict wasn’t a surprise.
“The state was warned from day one that they didn’t have a case. I have always said it from the beginning,” Silamulela said.
The families of the two boys walked out of court saddened.