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‘SAPS protection for rape victims’

by Sunday Express
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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE South African Police Services (SAPS) has promised full security and protection to victims who come forward to testify against alleged South African serial rapist, Mokena Nhlapo.

South African Police Service (SAPS) Captain Zweli Mohobeledi made the undertaking after only five Basotho women responded to an appeal by South African government officials for victims to come forward with their testimonies on Thursday.

Basotho had been asked to visit the South African High Commission offices in Maseru on Thursday to testify against the 39-year-old Nhlapo who was arrested on 1 June this year in Fouriesburg, South Africa by Bethlehem FCS Detectives after a women accused him of raping her.

Nhlapo is believed to have raped many more women after luring them to Fouriesburg with promises to give them money, jobs and accommodation in South Africa.

Captain Zweli Mohobeledi, who heads the investigations, on Friday told the Sunday Express that only five Basotho women heeded the Thursday call to testify, adding that more victims should come forward to enable the police build a strong case against the accused.

He said victims should contact Bethlehem Family violence, child protection, and sexual offences Unit who can be reached on (+27) 82 854 7546 or call SAPS Crime Stop on (+27) 8600 10111. The SAPS will determine the kind of protection they may require.

Nhlapo was arrested after a woman alleged that he lured her via social media. She said accepted a Facebook invitation from the suspect in February this year. She further alleged that they met in person for the first time in April at a house in Fouriesburg where she was later raped at gun-point.

The accused subsequently appeared before the Fouriesburg Magistrates` Court on 4 June on charges of kidnapping, assault, pointing a firearm, trafficking of persons for sexual purposes, rape, crimen injuria, extortion and illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

Captain Mohobeledi said Nhlapo would re-appear in court tomorrow, this time with legal representation and he could apply for bail.

As the news of his arrest spread, several allegations were levelled against Nhlapo on social media, amid indications that some of his victims were from Lesotho. This prompted SAPS to arrange last Thursday’s visit to record statements from victims.

“On Thursday we only managed to get five statements from Lesotho victims but we need more,” Captain Mohobeledi said.

“We understand that some may be traumatised by the whole issue and they fear to come forward but we need them to explain how they were victimised by the accused. If other victims are scared that he will publicise the videos he took during the offences they should also explain that as it is also a criminal offence he will charge with.

“The testimonies will also assist us in determining the kind of protection we may need to provide the victims. We strongly appeal to victims to help us build a strong case and solve the matter.”

Nhlapo would masquerade as potential date on social media only to later rape his victims, usually at gun point.

This publication has also seen a sexually explicit video believed to be taken by the accused with one of Lesotho’s victims who is also believed to have opened the case. In the video, the lady casts a detached look and demeanour which gives the impression that the sex was not consensual.

The man does not show his face but barks instructions on the sexual positions.

The woman subsequently recorded another video which has since been posted to social media pleading with other victims to come forward with their testimonies.

One of the victims who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity, said that she and her friend feared that if Nhlapo could hunt them down for testifying against him.

“Nhlapho told us that he had friends in the police force and he would come after us if reported him. He repeatedly threatened to shoot us if we attempted to escape and we fear that if he will come after us if he finds out that we testified against him.”

This victim said that they were lured with promises of employment via a Facebook account bearing the name, Boitumelo Molapo, who purported to be employed at a medical centre in South Africa.

“When we crossed into South Africa to meet this Molapo, we were received by Nhlapo at the border who made excuses on behalf of his ‘friend’ who could not come to meet us in person.

She said on their visit, they were horrified to be held hostage at gunpoint in Fouriesburg. They were forced to spend an entire weekend sexually pleasing the suspect.

Last year in April, the Sunday Express’ sister Lesotho Times publication carried a story about Nhlapo’s alleged scandals. He was accused of duping local models of thousands of maloti after promising them modelling contracts and prizes.

He also allegedly demanded sexual favours from the models he lured to South Africa to ensure they were awarded the contracts. The victims who had spoken to this publication had reported to Fouriesburg police.

Captain Mohobeledi said that even though he was aware of the reports, Nhlapo had not been charged as the victims were no longer forthcoming.

“There is a special team which deals with issues of rape and the Fouriesburg police handed over the case to them. However, the case had to be put on hold since the victims could no longer be found.

“The case is not dead but those who had opened it should come forward so that we can continue with it,” Captain Mohobeledi said.



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