“After decades of fighting to bring the man who raped me as a minor to book, the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) have let him off the hook,” said the Sea Point woman, Orna Kiesel. “I’ve given it all I’ve got and don’t know what to do any more. I feel absolutely hopeless. So, right now I keep thinking, what’s the point of life any more?”
Following decades of coming to terms with her childhood trauma and seeking justice, a chance encounter with a senior police officer resulted in Kiesel finally getting Sea Point officers to take her seriously and open a rape case in August 2014.
This after Scotland Yard had told Kiesel the previous year that because the alleged offence did not occur within their jurisdiction, they had passed her allegations on to their South African counterparts.
Kiesel alleges that while autograph-hunting during the pop star’s Cape Town leg of a national tour, she was separated from her teenage friends and ushered into the pop star’s hotel suite where she saw then Miss World Anneline Kriel and other guests seated in the lounge.
Minutes after posing for a photo with the pop star on the balcony of room 629 of the old President Hotel, she says she was called to the singer’s bedroom. There he plied her with champagne, then raped her on his bed while telling her to relax. In her statement,
Kiesel says she noticed blood on the sheets and became alarmed, not realising that it was because her virginity had been taken. In fear and confusion, she fled the room.
Following an investigation that muddled facts and time lines, the NPA declined to prosecute the singer in September 2015, saying there was no reasonable prospect of a successful outcome.
But after compelling representations, the NPA reopened the case.
Almost three years later, Kiesel was called to a meeting in the NPA’s Cape Town offices where she was told the case was being dropped for good.
Present was prosecutor Carina Coetzee who put Bob Hewitt behind bars for rape and sexual assault.
“She told me she had never seen a statement as thorough and as credible as mine, but they didn’t have enough evidence to successfully prosecute. I was so shocked, I broke down and cried.”
Still confused by the decision Kiesel says she see-saws between hopelessness and rage.
“In the #MeToo era, the NPA seems to lack the will to bring a rapist to court. What evidence do they still need? If this was America or the UK, I know they would have prosecuted the man I’m not allowed to name in public. Instead, the NPA has denied me the only chance I had to speak my truth. I feel absolutely powerless. I simply don’t know what to do any more.”
Following a last-ditch plea to Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock, he replied, in August: “I can assure you that the reaching of a decision in a matter such as this depends on the most careful assessment of all the admissible evidence. Some of the most experienced prosecutors have assisted me in this matter.
“I personally have reviewed the initial decision to decline to prosecute and, with the benefit of the further investigation that has been done, hold the firm and carefully considered view that the state does not have a reasonable prospect of proving a criminal charge in this instance.”