Port Elizabeth – A 19-year-old Blue Bulls rugby player charged with rape and robbery was granted bail of R10 000, while the woman who opened the case against him was criticised for “speaking out” on social media, by the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court in the Eastern Cape on Thursday.
The former Grey High School pupil, who cannot be named until he has formally pleaded, is facing charges after an 18-year-old woman opened a case against him in December last year.
The alleged incident happened after a night out in KwaMagxasi in Port Elizabeth. In summarising evidence before court on Thursday, Magistrate Una Rhodes read out statements from witnesses who had also attended the party at a flat in Central.
In the hours before the alleged attack, witnesses had seen the woman kissing, hugging and fondling the athlete. They also noted that the woman had consumed alcohol and substantial amounts of cannabis.
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The rugby player who intends to plead not guilty to the charges at trial, alleged that the woman’s motive for opening a case against him was as a result of her stealing his wallet and cellphone. He claimed that the pair did have sex, but it was consensual.
The State on the other hand, claimed that the defence tried to tarnish the name of the complainant and according to the prosecution the woman could have been smoking flavoured tobacco and not dagga.
Magistrate Rhodes criticised the woman for her outbursts on social media in the form of voice notes. She said that it raised serious questions in her mind, leaving room to doubt the reliability of her evidence. She also noted that there were contradictions in her statement to police and the voice notes.
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In her statement to police the woman claimed that she was dragged from the car they drove in and raped in the bushes, while in the voice notes she claimed that she got out of the vehicle, walked home and was attacked from behind.
However, Rhodes said that it was not the role of the bail court to decide on issues of credibility and those were matters to be dealt with at trial.
Rhodes said that she was able to find that exceptional circumstances existed to warrant the athlete’s release on bail. “Being a sports star is not exceptional, however the circumstances around his career amount to exceptional circumstances,” she said.
Rhodes said that rugby allowed him to be self sufficient and take care of the needs of his two-year-old son.
On taking the community into consideration, she said it was disconcerting a rape of a five-year old child, in the same court building, got no attention from the public. She said that she condoned “victims speaking out” but it needed to be done in line with following procedure. “Why does the community feel no outrage? Do the community only feel rage because he is a Blue Bulls rugby player?” she asked.
“The public had protested but this court cannot be held to ransom. Seemingly the public already found him guilty but this court can’t be bound by public opinion,” said Rhodes.
The rugby player is to report to the Sunnyside Police Station in Pretoria thrice a week and to have no contact with the complainant and witnesses as part of his bail conditions. The case was postponed until March 27 for further investigation.
African News Agency/ANA