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Durban - Doubt has been cast on testimony that a 14-year-old pregnant girl was among 22 women at an alleged brothel at a Point lodge owned by an uMhlanga doctor and his a wife.
Under cross-examination in the Durban High Court on Tuesday, the investigating officer initially said he had taken a statement from the young girl who was also a complainant in the matter.
However, when quizzed by the defence, Warrant Officer Cyril Freese said he might not have had time to get a statement from the girl he said was about five or six months’ pregnant.
Freese led the 2012 raid on the lodge owned by Dr Genchen Rugnath and his wife Ravina.
They are facing 150 charges, including racketeering, trafficking, rape and assault along with their co-accused Sandile Zweni, Nduduzo Dlamini and Bhabha Dubazani.
The couple’s attorney Anand Nepaul referred to a statement written by Freese last year. In it he said that at the conclusion of the raid, 23 wo-men were found at the property.
On the stand, Freese told the court that between 14 and 16 women and underage girls were found on the property.
They are alleged to have been recruited to work in the lodge which operated as a brothel.
He said the others had come forward after they heard the other girls were rescued from the lodge.
Freese said he could not remember the name of the 14-year-old, but would be able to get her name from the shelter and cross-check it with the list of complainants.
Looking at the list again, Freese then said he was sure the only complainant listed as a 14-year-old was not the pregnant one.
In fact, he could not obtain a statement from the pregnant teenager as she had escaped from the shelter where she had been placed, the court heard.
Freese did however photograph her, as he did all the other women.
But, the photographs were not entered into evidence, as they were not requested by the prosecution.
Nepaul told the court that a pregnant 14-year-old allegedly found in a brothel could not have simply been ignored.
“I put it to you (Freese) that the story of the 14-year-old pregnant girl found at the lodge is improbable,” said Nepaul.
The trial continues.