Durban - A man accused of raping three women, whom he allegedly dragged into a bush near Umbilo Park and bound and gagged, says he was “influenced” by muti.
Mlungisi Moyo, a Zimbabwean living in Amaoti, is facing three counts of rape and three counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
It is alleged that on July 2, 2011, at 7.30am he accosted a woman - on her way to work - in the park, and robbed her of her cellphone and watch at knife-point. He allegedly forced her into the bush, where he gagged, bound and raped her.
On September 9, he allegedly robbed and raped a woman who had been walking along Bowen Avenue, Glenmore. It is alleged he used strips of her clothing to bind and gag her and stole R150 from her handbag before he fled. She freed herself and sought help.
It is also alleged that on September 22 a woman was confronted by Moyo and a companion as she alighted from a taxi at the corner of Bowen Avenue and Grosvenor Road. Her cellphone and R50 were taken.
It is alleged the companion and Moyo forced the woman into the bush, where Moyo is said to have raped her.
Moyo’s trial, scheduled to begin last week, was delayed as the Durban High Court was unable to secure an interpreter.
On Monday, after acquiring the services of an Ndebele interpreter, the matter was further delayed due to contradictions in Moyo’s plea statement.
In his plea read out by his lawyer, Vijay Sivakumoor, Moyo said he had told police that he might have been influenced by “muti” that he had to help him find a job.
State advocate Vera Alamchand raised concerns about Moyo’s reference to “muti”.
“It’s difficult to understand what it means when he says he ‘may’ have been influenced by muti. If he knew what he was doing was wrongful, then he wouldn’t have been influenced by anything,” Alamchand said, referring to the paragraphs in the plea where Moyo accepted responsibility for the rapes as given in the indictment, which clearly states intent.
Alamchand said that should the State not accept the plea, further admissions would have to be drafted to expedite the matter.
Judge Daya Pillay called for clarity on the plea. She said the objective of an unequivocal plea was for an accused to “come clean” and appeal to the court for a lighter sentence. If the plea was unclear, these objectives were defeated, she said.
Sivakumoor emphatically said this “situation” could have been avoided if Moyo had not been forced to plead.
The court heard that Moyo had requested an adjournment.
“I have resources to manage. I cannot, at a whim, give an adjournment to an accused,” Judge Pillay snapped.
The judge put it to Sivakumoor that the plea was contradictory and was creating a defence argument.
Sivakumoor conceded that the conflicting paragraphs in the plea might result in a defence. Due to the ambiguity of the plea tendered, Judge Pillay recorded a plea of not guilty and said that the case would run on, whatever evidence was to be led.
Sivakumoor then applied to withdraw as Moyo’s attorney, saying he was doing so in a bid to prevent further ”conflict”.
Judge Pillay said there was no conflict and told Sivakumoor that she would not release him. She invited Sivakumoor to find another lawyer to take over the case.
The trial was expected to continue on Tuesday.