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Port Elizabeth - A 19-year-old Blue Bulls rugby player charged with two counts of rape and one count of robbery is in line for selection for the captaincy of the Under-20 Springbok side for the World Cup Championship in France this year and because of his high profile rugby commitments should be released on bail, the New Brighton Magistrate's Court in the Eastern Cape heard on Friday.

The rugby player is facing charges after an 18-year-old woman opened a case against him on December 28, last year. The alleged incident took place after a night out in KwaMagxaki in Port Elizabeth. The player who cannot be named until he has formally pleaded, is from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape but desperately wants to be released on bail to get back to his rugby commitments in Pretoria.

During court proceedings, Investigating Officer, Captain Michael Shanagan was cross examined by lawyer Danie Gouws. Gouws argued that the player should be released on bail as he was also selected to play in the Super Rugby tournament which starts in later this month. 

Gouws told the court that the franchise wanted the 19-year-old player to be released so that he could start training. He argued that it was unfair to let the athlete languish in prison for something he probably did not do. 

Read more: Blue Bulls Rugby player charged with rape in dock

"If he is not granted bail, they most probably won't have his contract renewed. He will not be able to play rugby and will most probably become a pauper and his two-year-old son will suffer. What's serious is when an innocent person is accused of rape,” Gouws said.

"He will be playing one game in New Zealand, one game in Australia and one game in Argentina. He will be supervised by the CEO and management, it is very easy to get someone back from those countries.”

Gouws argued that Makhaya Ntini was accused of rape yet he was released on bail and even went on to point out that South Africa's very own President Jacob Zuma, was not detained in custody after being charged with rape.

"I was in contact with the CEO, and it seems if anything he will get a fine. They are waiting for him to come out so that he can start training and hopefully realise his dream of playing for the Springboks,” Gouws said.

"It's my understanding, from my sources that he is going to be the Under-20 Captain for the World Cup," said Gouws.

Also read: Blue Bulls rugby player accused of rape hires top PE lawyer

According to detective Shanagan, on the night of the alleged incident, the complainant and the player had attended a party at a flat in Central. The woman's statement to Shanagan details that the player, and another person, drove the woman home.

At some stage the athlete needed to relieve himself. When the car stopped the woman decided to walk home, she claimed that the rugby player came from behind, tripped and dragged her into the bushes where he raped her.

However, Gouws said that he was in possession of a voice recording where the complainant could be heard saying that she got out of the vehicle herself and walked home and there was no mention in these recordings that she was dragged.

Gouws said that the State had a weak case and at trial the woman would be confronted with what he called a material contradiction. He said that the woman was posting information all over social media.

Gouws went on to show the court a video of the party in Central where alcohol was seemingly being consumed and with the woman allegedly wearing the rugby player's jersey. The State's forensic nurse noted that the woman had sustained bruising on her legs, breasts and tenderness on her face.

However, Gouws questioned why her clothing was clean and no blood was noted after an alleged brutal rape. He further dismissed the nurse's qualifications and pointed out the findings of his own forensic expert, Dr Phillip Kapp.

"Abrasions are nil, scars are nil, swelling is nil, bruising yes but in the absence of significant injuries. [Dr Kapp] cannot agree with the examiner's conclusion consistent with forceful anal penetration. We are sitting with a lady who is a afraid of her father, it is hard to believe it was her first time [having sex], it's very difficult to say that," Gouws argued.

The bail application was postponed until February 5 for argument. 

African News Agency/ANA

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