Rape accused denied bail

The Fouriesburg Magistrate’s Court has turned down the bail application of Mokena Nhlapo (39), who faces multiple charges relating to the alleged rape of several women.

He reappeared in court on Tuesday, 31 July, following his arrest in June after an intensive search.

Nhlapo worked as an intervention officer at the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality, which is admi­nistered by the ANC.

The rape charges against him came to light after a woman from Lesotho opened a case, alleging that Nhlapo had lured her into becoming a victim via social media.

According to the police, ten victims, mostly from Lesotho, have come forth with allegations of rape against Nhlapo.

Phaladi Shuping, regional spokes­person of the National Prosecuting Authority, said Magistrate Harold Prett had stated that Nhlapo had failed, during his bail application, to satisfy the court that exceptional circumstances exist for his release on bail.

“The bail application was entertained under schedule six, which places the honours on the accused person to convince the court that there were exceptional circumstances that permits his release on bail,” said Shuping.

The case was postponed to Thursday, 30 August, for further investigation.

Shuping said that Nhlapo had requested the court to grant him bail because he had handed his passport over to the police, also vowing to not intimidate witnesses or interfere with the investigations.

“He denied raping the victims and said he had intimate relationships with the complainants.”

Shuping said state prosecutor France Dlamini had informed the court that the handing over of his passport and firearm to the police should not count in his favour, because he had his way of crossing the border without being detected.

Shuping said the accused had a previous conviction of helping a person to cross the border without proper documentation, and did not reveal it in court.

Dlamini stated that Nhlapo had utilised the same modus operandi in all cases of alleged rape against him.

Shuping said Nhlapo faced 46 charges. These include: 13 counts of rape, 10 counts of assault, 5 counts of human trafficking, 4 counts of kidnapping, 2 counts of sexual assault, 2 counts of intimidation and 1 count of attempted rape.

He said the accused allegedly impersonated a police officer or a doctor and befriended the complainants from Lesotho on Facebook before luring them to South Africa.

“Once in South Africa, he would take them out for drinks and later take them to a house where he would repeatedly rape them at gunpoint. Nhlapo admitted in court that he took a selfie holding a police docket and placed the photo on social media,” said Shuping.

Prett was convinced that the state had a prima facie case against Nhlapo on most of the charges and it would not be in the best interest of justice to grant him bail.

“The National Prosecuting Authority is pleased that Nhlapo was denied bail as he is not a candidate for bail.

“The prosecutors will work together with the investigating team to ensure that the investigations are finalised as soon as possible to prepare thoroughly for the start of the trial,” said Shuping.