LERIBE — A 48-year-old community councillor in Mpharane, Likhang Mokotoane, was on Thursday remanded in custody for sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl from Maputsoe.
The Sunday Express has learnt that Mokotoane is alleged to have taken advantage of his status and persuaded the girl to have sex with him.
Police spokesperson, Senior Inspector Lebona Mohloboli, told this paper that Mokotoane was arrested by Maputsoe police and remanded by the Maputsoe Magistrate’s Court on suspicion that he raped the minor.
Mohloboli said the girl, who comes from a very poor family, is a protégée of the Peace Corps from America who volunteered to sponsor her education.
“Mokotoane saw and approached her at a school event where the girl was delivering a presentation on how she is coping with her poor family background,” Mohloboli said.
He reportedly then took advantage of the minor’s vulnerable situation and persuaded her to present the same speech at another school in Maputsoe where he was able to get her contact details.
“Mokotoane then started sending text love messages to the girl’s phone until he succeeded in persuading her to have sex with him,” Mohloboli said.
The councillor would give the girl gifts and send her airtime on her phone. In one incident he allegedly gave her M300 for maize meal and cosmetics.
Lebona said Mokotoane was arrested “in contravention of Section 10(1) of the Sexual Offences Act of 2003.”
It is suspected Mokotoane is responsible for the six months pregnancy the teenager is carrying.
The court hearing will be on February 11, 2014.
Gender Links Board Member Rethabile Pholo, underlined the illegality of having sex with a minor.
Pholo said committing a sexual act with a child for financial or other favours does not minimise the dastardly act.
“That man has committed statutory rape because the constitution says that a child under the age of 18 is still a minor,” Pholo said.
“The community expects him to protect such children not for him to initiate such offences himself,” Pholo said.
Pholo said Gender Links is looking forward to seeing how the Magistrate’s Court will conclude the case.