The affordable education loan option
A teenager has denied having raped and murdered a 14-year-old schoolgirl at the Mountain Rise cemetery.
The teen, who was 14 at the time of the murder, is on trial at the Pietermaritzburg High Court alongside his 17-year-old brother and a 22-year-old, Kyrone Spalding.
They are charged with the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Nomathemba Babongile Xaba. The battered body of the girl, who was returning home from school when she was attacked as she walked through the Pietermaritzburg cemetery, was found several days later and sparked an outcry from the public.
Pleading his innocence in the witness stand yesterday, the teen, a self-confessed glue-sniffer, told the court he’d been assaulted by police into implicating his brother in the crimes.
“When I was arrested, the police slapped me, punched me, electrocuted me and told me what to say. They told me to say my brother had raped the girl.”
In a warning statement to a magistrate after his arrest, the teen said he was returning from begging at a traffic light in Northdale and was walking past the cemetery when he saw Spalding grab the girl, choke her and drag her into the bushes.
In the statement, the teen also said he saw his brother following Spalding and the girl.
Under cross-examination, the teen, who told the court he could not “read, write or think properly” because he had only a Grade 4 education, denied he was lying about the assault. “I cross my heart and hope to die I am telling the truth. The police assaulted me because I did not want to testify against my brother,” he said.
The three accused initially pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, Spalding soon made an about-turn and admitted in a statement last week that he had raped the schoolgirl.
Spalding changed his version and admitted to an alternative charge of having sex with a corpse. In his statement he identified and implicated both brothers in the commission of the crimes.
He said he had seen the younger brother raping the girl. Spalding said he and the younger brother then left the cemetery, where the older brother continued to assault the young victim.
When Spalding returned later, he found the girl “helpless and motionless”. He became aroused and had intercourse with her, but couldn’t ascertain whether she was alive.
The trial continues.