Accused plead in holiday gang rape case

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Two of the three men accused of gang raping three women during an armed robbery at a holiday resort in Pennington, near Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, last month have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.

Sithembiso Shelembe, 23, and Mthokozisi Mbambo, 29, appeared in the Scottburgh magistrates' court yesterday on charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape, attempted murder and indecent assault.

The third accused, Wonder Mchunu, pleaded guilty to three counts of rape and two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The three men allegedly raped three Durban women in full view of their two male companions at a beach house and robbed them of their cellphones and other valuables on December 29.

They are also accused of attacking and robbing an elderly couple later that night.

The case was postponed to February 22 for a bail application. The accused remain in police custody.

On Wednesday when the suspects made their first court appearance about 200 residents protested outside the court.

Singer Steve Hofmeyr joined the crowd that called on the government to fight crime more efficiently.

The case has also received widespread interest after magistrate Chris Schoeman was removed from the trial.

The prosecutor's office has not given details about why Schoeman was replaced by magistrate Louis Radyn, but the community believe it is because after adjourning the proceedings, Schoeman made statements sympathising with the victims and said that he was touched by the show of solidarity for them.