FORMER world powerboat champion Lionel Ball was convicted in the Grahamstown High Court yesterday of raping and sexually exploiting an 11-year-old child. Sitting next to his outwardly composed co-accused, Nokuzola Ntonga, Ball turned pale and shook his head in disbelief as Judge Judith Roberson gave her reasons for believing the child’s version rather than theirs.
Ntonga was convicted of conspiracy and aiding and abetting Ball to commit a sexual offence, sexual exploitation of a child and child-trafficking for sexual purposes.
Roberson said she was satisfied the state had proved beyond reasonable doubt that, for a financial reward, Ntonga had taken the child to Ball at his request so that he could engage in a sexual act with her.
She said the state had proved that Ball raped the child in a bedroom of his Amalinda, East London, home and that Ntonga had aided and abetted him in the commission of the rape.
Ntonga and Ball had given contradictory, conflicting, false and unacceptable evidence about most aspects of the arranged meeting between Ball and the child and what had happened afterwards.
She said this had strengthened the child’s credibility.
At various stages of the five-hour judgment, a despairing Ball, dressed in his trademark green SA Inflatable Boat Association tri-nations 2009 blazer, held his head in his hands.
Roberson said the two adults had arranged everything that happened to the child. The girl had testified that she knew Ntonga, who had come to the house with a friend and told her she would take her to a social worker to get shoes and clothes.
She had climbed into the car driven by Ball.
At some point, Ntonga and her friend had been dropped off and Ball had taken her to his home and raped her.
He had then made her shower and had also showered before locking her in the bedroom while he spoke to a friend in the kitchen. He had later driven her back home.
While Ball admitted the child had ended up coming home with him, he denied he had raped her.
He had simply let her watch television in his bedroom before giving her a meal, some clothes and R200 for shoes.
Roberson said she found this inexplicable. She questioned why he would take a child he “did not know from a bar of soap”, allow her to watch television in his bedroom and then give her a relatively large sum of money.
She said it would have been extremely foolish for a man to take a young girl home under the circumstances he claimed to have done.
The matter was postponed to Thursday for argument to be conducted on sentencing.
However, it is understood that sentencing reports have been requested for both Ntonga and Ball and sentencing argument is unlikely to take place before next year.