Accused in NMU student rape case says he will plead guilty

Students protest outside the law courts in North End where a man appeared for the rape of two students earlier this week
Picture: Werner Hills

A man accused of raping two Nelson Mandela University (NMU) students on Monday night said he would plead guilty to the charges.

The 29-year-old appeared briefly in a packed Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court yesterday, where he also revealed he had a previous conviction for robbery with aggravating circumstances.

He was out on parole at the time of the latest attack. While it is not clear at this stage when he was released from prison, his parole was due to expire in 2019.

It is alleged that he scaled the university’s perimeter fence and entered the computer laboratory, where he stole equipment and raped two female students, aged 25 and 30.

One of the women managed to call for help via a garbled Facebook alert.

CCTV pictures of the suspect were then circulated via social media, leading to his swift arrest on Wednesday.

Addressing the court clearly yesterday, the man said he required Legal Aid South Africa representation.

At times, as his rights were explained to him, he was asked if he was still listening to the magistrate as his attention drifted and he began looking around and fidgeting.

He opted to abandon his bid for bail and said he intended pleading guilty to the provisional charges, which included two counts of rape and one of robbery.

He said he had no pending cases or warrants for his arrest.

A small student contingency protested outside the court building, while others packed the court gallery.

Journalists from Weekend Post’s sister newspaper, The Herald, were aggressively asked to leave by the students, who accused the paper of being racist.

The case against the man was postponed to Monday, when a date for a formal plea will be arranged. He cannot be named until then.

Meanwhile, a motorist who opened fire on protesters at the university on Wednesday was released on bail of R1 000 after appearing in the same court on Thursday afternoon.

Mthunzi Williams, 27, faces charges of attempted murder, discharging a firearm and pointing a firearm.

The case against Williams was postponed to November 23 for further investigation.

Charges against the three men who were with him at the time were withdrawn.

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