Kimberley – The ANC ward councillor who was arrested this week on charges of abduction, rape of a minor and attempted rape, was jubilantly carried on the shoulders of community members following his release from custody late on Thursday afternoon.
It is alleged that the suspect locked a 14-year-old girl, who attends a special school, and a young woman inside a house in Lerato Park over the weekend and only released them a few days later.
The suspect was arrested on Tuesday, however the 48-hour incarceration period had lapsed by Thursday. Since the docket and charge sheet had not been finalised by the close of day, the suspect had to be released.
According to the State, the suspect can be re-arrested and charged once the docket is ready to be presented to court.
A group of supporters, who proclaimed the innocence of the ward councillor, chanted and ran down the street in celebration when he was released on Thursday.
Both those in support of the councillor and those who supported the complainants waited the entire day for him to make his first appearance in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Members from Disabled South Africa, Disabled Children Action Group in the Northern Cape and the Rise Abafazi Movement picketed outside the court building in support of the girl and young woman and their families.
Meanwhile community members, who were wearing “hands off our councillor” T-shirts and carrying placards that read: “God protects the innocent” and “What goes around comes around”, also made their presence known at the court building.
“The devil is a liar. We know the councillor is not capable of what he has been accused of. This is a smear campaign instigated by people in the community who are intent on taking over his position,” they said.
The councillor’s supporters pointed out that this was not the first time that he had been “targeted” and “threatened”.
“They tried to burn down his house before.”
They said they would not support him if he was guilty of the charges.
“He is the first one who will go out of his way to save the vulnerable. I think that he was set up. While I do feel for the girl, I don’t believe that he is guilty, unless DNA evidence proves otherwise.”
A supporter of the complainants pointed out that it was unlikely that young girls would fabricate charges of this nature.
“A 14-year-old girl, especially one with a disability, would have no reason to lie about charges that are so serious.”
ANC Women’s League national executive member in the Northern Cape, Johlene Ntwane, condemned “with utmost disgust” the alleged rape and kidnapping of the young girl.
“Women and children in the community are placed under the custodianship of the councillor. ANC public representatives, more than any other political representative, have an understanding of the historical oppression that women endured and continue to battle on a daily basis. This should make them vigilant to the protection of women and children, more so to the most vulnerable members of society, such as those with disabilities,” Ntwane said.
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