British pop star probed for SA teen's '70s rape
OPERATION Yewtree, the landmark British police investigation into sexual abuse allegations dating back decades, put some superstars behind bars: singer and TV star Rolf Harris, pop idol of yesteryear Gary Glitter and showbiz publicist Max Clifford.
The reputation of deceased DJ and TV personality Jimmy Savile was destroyed by the shocking revelations that he was a sexual predator.
Over in the US, actor Bill Cosby stands accused of dozens of rapes dating back to the ’60s.
And now, on the desk of a Sea Point police detective lies a docket of a similar explosive nature.
The investigation, which has the potential to send shock waves across the world, revolves around a child rape allegation against a global pop star from the UK.
A Grammy award winning singer, he holds an OBE and has been courted by politicians, celebrities and TV networks across the world.
A Sea Point woman, now in her 50s, has provided police with graphic testimony alleging the superstar raped her on his bed in room 629 of the old President Hotel when she was a 14-year-old virgin.
Her evidence is that the nightmare experience began innocently on a Saturday in 1976 when she and her friends went autograph hunting at the hotel.
By chance, the naïve teenagers arrived as the star, then in his thirties, was arriving at the hotel in his limousine. He spotted them and instructed a bodyguard to give them tickets to his concert that night at the Three Arts in Plumstead.
During the show a minder allegedly tapped the complainant on her shoulder and told her the star would like to meet her in his hotel room the next day.
After Sunday school class the girl and her friends, aged 13 and 14, walked to the nearby President Hotel, hoping to get an autograph for their “find a star” project.
In the lobby the star’s bodyguard allegedly told the girl to leave her friends and accompany him.
She says she was led into a 6th floor hotel suite where she saw a number of people, including the star’s back up singers and a beauty queen who introduced herself as former Miss World, Anneline Kriel.
She says the star appeared from his room wearing a white bathrobe and she was led onto the balcony when he posed alongside her for photographs. She was allegedly shown into his bedroom and offered a drink that turned out to be champagne, her first ever taste of alcohol.
She claims that when she was feeling tipsy the star raped her on the bed while telling her to relax. After the alleged rape she noticed blood on the sheets and became alarmed, not realising at the time that it was because her virginity had been broken.
In fear and confusion the woman claims she fled the room, noticing the suite was deserted.
Later at home after showering, her mother noticed bruises on her body but she could not bring herself to reveal her ordeal.
Following decades of suffering from trauma, confusing advice from friends and lawyers and several unsuccessful attempts to lay a charge, the woman had a chance encounter with a senior police officer who ensured that a docket was opened at Sea Point in August 2014.
This was after she had e-mailed her allegations in 2013 to Britain’s Scotland Yard which informed her British detectives were unable to investigate the case as the alleged offence occurred outside their jurisdiction. They passed her allegations on to the South African Police Service.
Following an investigation that muddled facts and time lines, the National Prosecuting Authority in September 2015 declined to prosecute, saying there was no reasonable prospect of a successful outcome.
But, after strong and compelling representations to the NPA, a new prosecutor and investigating officer were assigned to the case.
The docket is now back with the investigating officer who met with the complainant last week. New avenues of investigation are apparently being pursued.
This was confirmed this week by NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.
“We can confirm that charges were registered against (name omitted for legal reasons) in respect of events which are alleged to have occurred in the 1970s in Cape Town. The charges (are) registered under Sea Point CAS 641/8/2014. The case docket has been referred back to the South African Police Service with a request for further investigation. This is with a view to enabling us to make a decision regarding prosecution. The docket will be further considered upon its return from the SAPS.”
A Cape Town lawyer familiar with the facts of the case told Weekend Argus he had no doubt “the allegations are authentic”. He said the complainant was a credible witness with excellent recall of events.
“The key to a successful prosecution in my opinion is finding witnesses who place the complainant in the star’s hotel suite and who can speak for her childlike demeanour.
“And the smoking gun is the bloodied sheets. If the prosecution can find someone from The President housekeeping staff who remembers removing bloodied linen from the sixth floor it would leave the defence having to explain a lot. Not least how a minor came to shed so much blood in a private hotel room where the only other person present was the star in question.”