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Publicist spills beans on SA rape allegations against Brit singer

Crime & Courts
Cape Town - The British pop legend accused of raping a 14-year-old in a Sea Point hotel room in the 1970s was sharing the room with a famous former Miss SA and Miss World.

The beauty queen joined the Cape Town leg of the pop star’s South African tour on a Tuesday and occupied the room from the early morning until the afternoon for the rest of the week until he flew back to the UK on the Sunday.

This is the claim of Geoff Burmeister, 68, tour publicist and chaperone who says he was with the star for a large part of the week both at the President Hotel and the concert venue, the 3 Arts Theatre in Plumstead.

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Geoff Burmeister waiting with The Nolan Sisters, the star's support act, at the airport in the 1970s. Picture: Supplied

He recalls vividly having to rouse the star and the beauty queen out of bed every day to get to the theatre on time.

Burmeister, a former Sea Point resident who lives in Johannesburg, contacted the Weekend Argus after reading about the rape claim exclusive in our April 15 edition.

Since then our story has been published around the world. The name of the accused star is known to Weekend Argus but cannot be published until he is officially charged. But the singer’s identity has been widely circulated on the internet and social media, including a US news website which published a picture of the star alongside the alleged victim last week. She has also shared video interviews containing details of the rape on the web.

The UK media reported last week how the star was “petrified” her claims would destroy his reputation.

Burmeister, who was dating one of the singers in the support act, The Nolan Sisters, remembers picking up the legend at Cape Town’s airport in his limo which had been especially shipped out.

He arrived with beauty queen Vera Sutherland but when she ditched the singer he instructed Burmeister to get hold of Anneline Kriel and fly her down.

“He could get these girls because they were enamoured with his personality. They were part of his good-looking entourage. You would have been horrified how the women at his shows would take off their bras and panties and throw them on the stage. It’s the first time I had seen that sort of fan hysteria.”

That meant on the Monday night the thirtysomething singer was on his own, says Burmeister. So he hit on a teenager in the audience.

“He saw a 17-year-old girl with her mom and dad in the theatre foyer after his first performance,” recalls Burmeister. “She was a very pretty girl with brown hair in her final year of high school. He asked me if she could have dinner with him that night. I had to go over and ask her parents. Her parents agreed and I don’t know what happened after that.”

Burmeister says he collected Kriel at the airport the following morning with her sister and dropped her at the President Hotel.

“Kriel got to know the singer intimately during that week when they were mostly in his room from after his shows and dinner until late the next afternoon. My job was to drag him out of the room at five o’ clock so he could be at the show on time. It was an art doing that.

“I was in his suite moaning and groaning to them, shouting 'look guys you have got a show, it’s time to get up'. And then I’d see Kriel coming out of his bedroom. She was living there. I also chauffered them to restaurants. They were holding hands, kissing and hugging. And she was in his dressing room at his shows. They were involved.”

Burmeister says when he first read about the rape claims they didn’t make sense. “I couldn’t understand how this little girl could have got into his room and been raped there. How did she do that when Kriel was there all the time?”

He says he minded the star with the hotel's Scottish concierge named Jock who he has lost contact with.

“We kept an eye on what was going on and kept his groupies well away. That’s why I thought how could she have got up to his room?”

But since seeing photogs of the star and his rape accuser on his hotel balcony, which have also been widely shared on the internet, Burmeister concedes she must have been slipped past him when he wasn’t looking.

“I was hectically busy that Sunday preparing for our departure. His bodyguard must have taken her up to his room when I wasn’t looking or busy with something else.”

The photos were snapped minutes before the star plied the teenager with champagne and then allegedly raped her on his bed. She claims she was a virgin at the time.

Now in her fifties and still living in Sea Point, the alleged victim has also shared video interviews containing details of the alleged rape on the web.

The alleged victim says Kriel was in the lounge of the star’s suite and introduced herself shortly before she stepped onto the balcony to pose with the star.

A reliable source says Kriel has been interviewed by the investigating officer.

Following decades of trauma, confusing advice from friends and lawyers and several unsuccessful attempts to lay a charge, the victim had a chance encounter with a senior police officer who made sure that an official rape docket was opened at Sea Point in August 2014.

This was after she had emailed her allegations in 2013 to Scotland Yard which informed her that it was unable to investigate as the alleged offence was out of its jurisdiction. The Met Police also confirmed it would be registering the case for intelligence purposes and had passed on her allegations to the SAPS.

Last month, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed the statutory rape case is being further investigated. “We can confirm that charges were registered against (name omitted for legal reasons) in respect of events which are alleged to have occurred in the 1970s in Cape Town. The charges (are) registered under Sea Point CAS 641/8/2014. The case docket has been referred back to the South African Police Service with a request for further investigation. This is with a view to enabling us to make a decision regarding prosecution. The docket will be further considered upon its return from the SAPS.”

A Cape Town lawyer familiar with the facts says there is no doubt in his mind “that the allegations are authentic. The alleged victim is a credible witness with excellent recall of the facts.

“The key to a successful prosecution is finding witnesses who place the complainant in the star’s hotel suite and who can speak for her childlike demeanour."

Kriel, now Bacon, responded to a request for comment via e-mail on Saturday: “I was made aware of these allegations and was interviewed by the investigator dealing with this case about 6/8 months ago. I am sorry I can’t shed more light on it. Kind regards, Anneline Bacon.”

Weekend Argus

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