Pretoria - A Soweto hip hop artist, who was falsely accused of raping a teenager, is to receive R450 000 in damages after he was remanded in custody for a year even though DNA evidence proved he was not the perpetrator.
The case against Kevin Stemar was postponed 11 times because the State was not ready to proceed. When the case went to trial in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, he was acquitted.
A judge from the North Gauteng High Court, sitting in Pretoria, said it was a travesty of justice and ordered the minister of police to pay Stemar R100 000 for unlawful arrest. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had to pay him R350 000 damages.
Stemar was arrested at his home in November 2010 on a charge of rape and after the alleged victim claimed he and a friend had raped her.
The DPP’s office insisted that he be detained without bail, even when it became apparent that his DNA did not link him to the rape.
His trial started a year later – in December 2011. He was acquitted in the same month.
The alleged rape took place when the 15-year-old “victim’s” mother sent her to a supermarket and was worried when she returned only hours later.
The teenager said she was raped and took her mother and the police to Stemar, claiming he was the rapist.
The prosecutor testified that she was satisfied there were signs of penetration and, because the victim was a child, she decided to go ahead with the prosecution despite the DNA report.
Stemar testified that he had performed at a hip hop session the previous night. He went back to his flat, when a friend arrived with the “victim”. According to him, they later left and he slept. The police never questioned the friend.
Judge KE Matojane said the only source of information was the teenager, whose evidence was not accepted by the lower court.
The judge said the police had a duty to investigate whether there were facts against an alleged perpetrator before arresting him. He said the police could not arrest and detain a person on mere suspicion “otherwise law-abiding citizens will be left at the mercy of an officer’s whim”.
Judge Matojane questioned why the prosecutor opposed Stemar’s bail, even when she saw the contradicting statements given by the victim and did not withdraw the charges when the DNA did not match his.