Joburg ANC councillor Kenneth Mgaga returns to work after rape charge dropped
Johannesburg - City of Joburg’s ANC councillor Kenneth Mgaga, who was accused of rape and placed on suspension by his party, has returned to work following the withdrawal of the charge against him in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.
Six weeks ago, Joburg ANC leaders voiced support for his accuser and said they hoped that the court would hand down the appropriate sentence.
However, the court’s decision to withdraw the charge due to lack of evidence has now prompted the same party to backtrack on the allegations and reinstate him to his position.
Mgaga, 35, of Alexandra, was officially charged with rape on January 4 following his arrest on New Year’s Day. The charge against him was laid by his 28-year-old friend who spent the Christmas night at his home.
Video: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
At the time, the victim told the police that the alleged act happened on December 26 but she only laid a formal complaint on December 28.
Prior to Mgaga’s court appearance, his party, the ANC, in Joburg, through its secretary Dada Morero, issued a scathing statement alleging Mgaga’s involvement in the sexual violation.
At the time, Morero said: “A woman’s body is not a playground nor is it a crime scene.
“The ANC stands with the victim and calls on law enforcement agencies to ensure that the alleged misogynist faces the full might of the law as we believe in the fairness and unbiasedness of the justice system of our country.”
But in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court, State prosecutor Ayanda Bakana did not oppose bail on Mgaga’s first appearance. He was released on R2 000 bail.
Ironically, the State did not reject Mgaga’s affidavit in which he denied ever having had sex with his accuser. Bakana had instead asked for a postponement until February 22 for further investigations and trial.
It was during his second appearance on Monday that the prosecution formally withdrew the charge against him, which prompted the ANC to reinstate Mgaga to his position as councillor in the City of Joburg.
In an apparent backtrack, Morero now says: “The ANC in the Greater Johannesburg welcomes the provisional withdrawal of the rape charges against its PR councillor, Cde Kenneth Mgaga, by the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.
“The provisional withdrawal was due to the State not being able to present a case that could stand the scrutiny of a court of law.”
He said the ANC commends Mgaga for his conduct during this difficult time, as his “revolutionary consciousness guided him and as (he) such stepped aside and took a leave of absence from his duties as a PR councillor in the City of Johannesburg and allowed the law to take its course.”
“Cde Mgaga demonstrated the highest levels of discipline by respecting the law enforcement agencies, courts and the ANC by not making any public statements or addressing in public gatherings, and as such respected the integrity of the process.
“The City of Johannesburg ANC Caucus will therefore reinstate Cde Mgaga to his full functions as a councillor to continue doing his work of community service,” Morero said.
He, however, said that the ANC in Greater Johannesburg would continue to support the struggle against gender-based violence and would also continue to support all victims of “this heinous and evil scourge of GBV in our society”.