13 December 2018

South Africa: 'We Trusted Him' - Soweto Community Responds to Acquittal of Scholar Patrol Guard

Photo: SABC Digital News/YouTube
Acting Judge Peet Johnson handing down judgment in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court.

The community of Orlando East in Soweto, Johannesburg, is struggling to put back the pieces a day after a high court judgment in which a former scholar patrol guard at the AB Xuma Primary School was acquitted of all charges against him.

Johannes Molefe, 58, was on trial for three counts of rape and 11 counts of sexual assault.

The South Gauteng High Court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court found that the State had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Molefe had sexually assaulted the pupils - aged between five and 13 - at the primary school in 2017.

One woman who wanted to remain anonymous told News24 that she had a son who attended the school. She said the community had trusted Molefe with their children.

"We would always find the kids playing in his room at the school. We trusted him," she said.

She added that it was unfair for the judge to use the children's discrepancies during their testimonies against [them].

"They are just kids. How can you expect them to remember everything? A child will never lie," she said.

Another parent, who cannot be identified in order to protect the identity of his child, soon lost trust in Molefe following an incident with his daughter.

The parent, who alleged to have been friendly with Molefe, described to News24 how Molefe had allegedly approached his daughter last year, who was 12 years old at the time.

He said she told him that Molefe had asked for her phone number when she was at the neighbourhood shops.

"I have a daughter that Jomo (Molefe) once asked numbers from and so I do believe that he maybe have done all those things the kids are saying he did to them," he said.

The parent said that, shortly after the incident, he had reported it to the principal of AB Xuma, because he feared that Molefe would do a similar thing to other children at school.

'I feel the law didn't do justice at all'

A few weeks after the parent reported the incident, Molefe was arrested and charged for allegedly sexually harassing and raping children at the school.

"When I reported the incident of my daughter to the principal, she called Jomo and confronted him and he apologised. I even told the principal that, if we would investigate, we would get further dirt on him," said the parent.

"I feel bad that he has been acquitted because I think he will continue doing this to other people, and especially children. I feel the law didn't do justice at all," Ncube said.

When News24 visited Molefe's home in Orlando, his brother said he was at a secret location, as he feared for his safety.

The brother, who was uneasy and would not give his name, said the family was now living in fear.

On Thursday morning, the NPA announced that it would challenge Molefe's acquittal.

"To ensure the prevalence of justice in our society, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) intends to appeal the judgment, based on the ground that the verdict was unreasonable and could not be validated by substantial evidence," the NPA's Abram Mohlatole said in a statement.

Source: News24

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