Prosecution asks to drop rape case
In a strange turn of events, the state has asked to withdraw a case of rape against a Blue Bulls contract rugby player, while the man’s confident legal team wants the matter to proceed.
The sportsman is accused of raping an 18-year-old in Port Elizabeth in December 2017.
He spent two months in custody before he was released on bail of R10,000.
The matter had been set down for trial in the Port Elizabeth Regional Court on Monday and was scheduled to run to completion over 14 days.
But the accused – who stood towering in the dock – and his lawyers were taken aback when prosecutor Kenny van Biljon indicated that the state wished to strike the matter off the court roll.
Van Biljon said they had been unable to trace a key state witness to consult with him about the alleged incident.
Defence advocate Terry Price SC asked that the court force the prosecution to proceed with the matter.
The player, now 20, was arrested after the girl alleged he had raped her after a social gathering at a flat in Central on December 28 2017.
The player, originally from Queenstown, is not being named until he formally pleads to the charges, though during his highly publicised bail application he indicated an intention to plead not guilty.
Price said if the matter was struck from the roll, the state could reinstate the charges at a later stage and that would continue to haunt his client.
Price, instructed by attorney Danie Gouws, said the player had been contracted to play for the Blue Bulls and that this case had been hanging over his head for more than a year.
“He has already had his name dragged through the mud in the media,” Price said, adding that any further delays would be grossly unfair.
He said the alleged victim – seated quietly in the corridors of the court building with family members – could testify.
“The state also has access to a medical report, so why can’t we start with this evidence in the meantime?” Price said.
Gouws commented later that the witness the state was trying to trace could not take the matter any further.
The rugby player claimed that the sex had been consensual and the young woman, who had allegedly been drinking and smoking dagga at the time, had falsely accused him of rape because she had stolen his wallet and cellphone.
In a statement to the police, the girl claimed that while walking home later that night, the rugby player came from behind, tripped her and dragged her into the bushes.
She alleged he forced her to perform a sexual act on him and raped her more than once.
However, there were vast material differences in the version of events she later released in the form of voice notes on social media.
Magistrate Kenny Cooney said he was inclined to grant the state’s request, but invited Price to present argument as to why he should not do so.
Cooney said the girl was also being prejudiced and that a delay to the trial did not only affect the accused.
The court will hear argument on Tuesday...