The rape case involving a high-ranking Limpopo provincial government official was withdrawn in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court yesterday, amid allegations that he had bribed the complainant.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said the withdrawal of the case came after legal counsel for the two parties, the complainant and the suspect, submitted withdrawal statements before the proceedings in court yesterday.
The official, who serves in the office of the Limpopo premier, was due for his first appearance in court after his arrest on Saturday.
The 30-year-old woman had claimed he raped her after a drinking spree at a lodge in Polokwane on Friday night. He, in turn, accused her of demanding R200 000 from him after the incident.
The woman went to a Polokwane police station and laid a charge of rape against him. She was in Limpopo at the time as part of the support staff for the Botswana soccer team, which came to the province to participate in the Cosafa Cup tournament, which started on May 27 and will wrap up this Saturday.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojalefa said yesterday that a few minutes after she laid the charge, the official then laid a countercharge of extortion against her at the same police station. The complainant was then also arrested and was expected to appear in the same court yesterday.
“We can now confirm that the two cases have been withdrawn. In light of this, both cases will not be enrolled in court. But we will send the dockets to the director of public prosecutions for a decision,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.
He would not be drawn to comment on why the case was withdrawn.
The official’s lawyer, Pholoto Seopela, of Seopela Attorneys in Polokwane, said he was on cloud nine that his client was now a free man.
But the withdrawal of the case has since set tongues wagging among politicians in the ranks of the opposition.
“Today the country has learnt with no doubt that money is indeed the root of all evil,” alleged Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) provincial secretary Jossey Buthane yesterday.
“The country has also learnt that if you work in the highest office in the province, your power supersedes that of the constitution of the country, which states that no one is above the law.
“This should serve as a lesson to all women in this country that those who work in the highest offices in the country and are surrounded by those with money and power can never be found guilty in a court of law.
“They can rape or kill and get away with murder because they are untouchable. This innocent victim went to the police station to report a case of rape. The same victim was then arrested.
“As if that was not enough, her rapist paid her R150 000 to withdraw the case. That shows beyond a shadow of doubt that money can buy anything in this country. What a shame,” said Butane.
Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha’s spokesperson Kenny Mathiba said the office of the premier was thrilled that the case had been withdrawn and that they maintained that a person was innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The official could not be reached for comment, as his phone was repeatedly not answered.