Durban - A young woman’s trip to Durban to attend a popular sports event turned ugly when she was allegedly raped in a beachfront hotel by a policeman from Gauteng.

Ekurhuleni metro police superintendent Sydney Dhladhla, 45, pleaded not guilty when he appeared in the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Krishen Shah said Dhladhla, his former girlfriend, Lerato Mohatle, the alleged victim - who was Mohatle’s friend - and Dhladhla’s three male friends drove to the city from Johannesburg in July 2012 to attend the Durban July.

Mohatle’s friend, then 21, alleges Dhladhla entered a room at the Garden Court hotel on Marine Parade and raped her at about 1am on July 7.

Dhladhla’s attorney, Benny Ndaba, told the court his client admitted to having sex with the woman, but said that it was consensual.

Magistrate Trevor Levitt ruled that the young woman, who may not be named, testify in camera.

Mohatle, who testified in open court, said she and her friend had drunk alcohol during the drive from Joburg and were intoxicated when they reached the hotel.

She said the complainant had arranged to stay with another friend, but when the young woman could not reach this friend on her cellphone, she decided to stay at the hotel and share a room with one of Dhladhla’s friends.

Mohatle said later that night she received a call from the hotel manager, who said her friend was crying in his office.

“I went to the manager’s office. The complainant was crying. She told me that someone came into the room and slept with her and she did not know who it was as it was dark and she could not see.”

She said while she was in the manager’s office, Dhladhla called her on her cellphone and told her to come back to the room.

“I did not think it was strange that he was calling me because I thought, as a cop, he could help the complainant.”

She said when she and the woman got to the room, Dhladhla confessed.

“At first he told me to wait outside and he spoke to the woman alone. I went outside for a bit, but when I went back into the room, he told me he did it. He said it was he who went to the complainant’s room and she (the complainant) knew it was him. I was shocked and angry.”

Mohatle said the woman asked her for advice and she told her to lay a charge if she felt violated.

She said hotel management called the police and Dhladhla was arrested on the premises.

During cross-examination, Ndaba told Mohatle his client said the sex was consensual.

Mohatle replied: “I do not know.”

She said she had visited Dhladhla at the Point police station’s holding cells.

“It was my boyfriend and friend and I was stuck in the middle. I was trying not to take sides and just wanted to get to the bottom of the story.”

The trial continues.

The Mercury