The suspect in the rape of a 10-year-old girl speaks to Legal Aid attorney Mustaqeem Ameer in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court in this file picture. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane / ANA
The suspect in the rape of a 10-year-old girl speaks to Legal Aid attorney Mustaqeem Ameer in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court in this file picture. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane / ANA

How ’sex slave’ girl found courage to tell of sexual abuse by stepdad

By Janine Moodley Time of article published Oct 16, 2020

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Durban - AN 11-year-old girl, who was repeatedly raped, cried in pain outside her home on the morning of June 10, 2018, after she had been beaten with a sjambok.

A neighbour said he saw the child crying and took her to his home, where his wife took care of her.

He testified in the Durban High Court on Monday that after he took her to safety, the girl had found the courage to speak out.

Her 45-year-old stepfather is on trial. He faces 56 counts, including rape, child abuse, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and the creation of child porn.

According to evidence led in court at the start of trial this week, the accused made the girl dress in adult lingerie.

He also allegedly smoked cannabis and forced her to perform indecent acts on herself, on him and others.

Cheryl Naidu, the senior State prosecutor, read out the charges to the accused on Monday. He pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The neighbour, who worked with the accused as his assistant, took the stand. He said the accused was responsible for fixing large machines that included excavators. The accused’s position allowed him to keep the company’s tow truck at his home.

The neighbour said he knew the victim as the accused’s daughter.

On June 10, the neighbour said he found the child crying outside her home and after speaking to her, he found out that the accused had hit her.

“He hit her with a 30cm sjambok in her chest after having a fight with her. Seeing that she was crying, I asked if she wanted to stay with us (him and his wife) for the night and she agreed,” said the neighbour.

The next day, the accused and the neighbour arrived home early from work after the tow truck was taken away from the accused.

“He asked me if he could speak to the victim. I said I would ask her but she refused.”

The neighbour said he and his wife then took the child to his mother-in-law’s home for a visit. It was at this point that the child spoke about what her stepfather had allegedly been doing to her.

“She was talking to my wife and mother-in-law. I had been in the kitchen cooking and could overhear the conversation. She later came up to me and asked me if I believed her and I said, ‘Yes child. I believe you.’”

He said she told him: “If you don’t believe me, look at my father’s phone.”

When the neighbour arrived at his home later that evening, he found members of the community grouped together with sticks in their hands.

“The accused was sitting upright on the floor. The commotion was about the accused doing things to his daughter.”

He said he approached the accused and asked him for his phone.

“At this time, the phone fell out of his pocket but I could not get it to come on. I went to my house and asked the victim to put the phone on. I told her I was going to talk to the police and that everything was going to be okay. I thereafter went back outside.”

He said at this point, he saw explicit items laying around the accused.

“On the ground, I saw lubricant, an album, condoms, lingerie, some of which include silk panties and bras with straps and toys. One condom was blue and had studs on it.”

He said there was also a pornographic CD called Naughty Girls on the ground.

The neighbour said Reaction Unit SA, a private security company, and police arrived shortly afterwards.

“I saw the accused being taken in the police van and I asked one of the officers what I should do with the items on the floor. He said to gather them and he would come back for them.”

The neighbour said he and his wife took the child to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix for medical attention. “A nurse attended to her and after examining her, decided to keep her for the night.”

The neighbour also testified about the victim’s behaviour when she was around the accused.

“He would always keep her close by and whenever we would try to talk to her, she would put her head down. Sometimes he would lock her inside the house. When she had a chance, she would come to our place but run off as soon as the accused returned home.”

He recounted one occasion when the accused left the home with the child in the early hours of the morning.

“I woke up in a panic, thinking I was late for work because I heard the truck starting, only to realise it was 1.30am. He returned around 6am. Both the victim and accused jumped out of the vehicle.”

The neighbour said the accused ran into the home to change his shirt and both he and the accused left together for work.

“I asked him where did he go and he told me there was a snake in the house. When we returned home, I saw him filling the gaps in the home. The victim was standing there with her reflector jacket and two ponytails.”

Yesterday, Thiagaraj Pillay, the accused’s Legal Aid attorney, cross-examined the neighbour. He said that the cellphone did not belong to the accused but to the victim. She later took the stand but media were not allowed to sit in.

The trial continues.

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