News | South Africa | Courts
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has thrown out former Denel boss and convicted sex pest Koos Venter’s bid to overturn his multiple rape and indecent assault convictions.
“Rape is one of the most invasive and horrendous criminal acts. Added to that is the trauma that goes with a victim having to recount the ordeal in evidence,” read the opening lines to the majority ruling penned by acting Appeal Judge Nolwazi Mabindla-Boqwana and handed down last week.
In 2009, the Pretoria Regional Court convicted Venter, who used to head up Denel’s Aero Manpower Group division as chief operations officer, on a total of four charges of raping a one-time colleague and seven charges of indecently assaulting her.
He was sentenced to an effective 10 years in jail. At trial, the court heard harrowing details around the harassment he had subjected the woman to which started just three months after she began working at Denel and dragged on for some four years before she eventually managed to report it.
These included how he threatened to kill the then-married mother with a shotgun if she told anyone; and how, as a Hindu, she had feared being ostracised from her community if word got out.
Venter, for his part, has flatly denied the charges and on appeal, he tried to argue that the court had not properly assessed her evidence intrinsically against the evidence of the other witnesses.
His case was that had the court done so, it would have found material discrepancies in her evidence which would in turn have impacted on her credibility and reliability. But the SCA wasn’t buying it.
“When confronted about these discrepancies the complainant stated that the incidents occurred a long time ago and they were traumatic for her. Thus, she tended to get confused with the dates,” Mabindla-Boqwana said.
“The contradictions in my view, given their context and the explanation tendered, do not suggest that the complainant was an untruthful or unreliable witness.
“While she mixed up the dates, she was certain of the fact that the incidents had happened and gave detailed accounts of those.”
The SCA found the trial court had rightly rejected Venter’s version as not being reasonably possibly true.
“The state has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt,” Mabindla-Boqwana said.
At trial, Venter testified he and the complainant had had a strained relationship due to factors including that she was unhappy with her salary.
But Mabindla-Boqwana found this was not a reason for her to falsely implicate him.
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