'I KNOW MY CHILD IS NOT A RAPIST'

"I GO to bed but do not get any sleep. If I do its for a while then I'll be up again. I see his face and call his name but there is no answer."

"I GO to bed but do not get any sleep. If I do its for a while then I'll be up again. I see his face and call his name but there is no answer."

This is what each night is like for Lucky Kokela, mother of convicted rapist Moeketsi Mphuthi, 20.

Mphuthi and his co-accused, Kabelo Mwale, 25, Thabiso Thukwane, 24, Sello Mohlala, 24, Oupa Mohlala, 23, Bongani Nhlapho, 22, and Mojalefa Seleka, 22, were found guilty of gang-raping a 30-year-old woman at gunpoint in Thembisa, Ekurhuleni, in 2005.

Gauteng South high court judge Lucy Mailula sentenced them to between 17 and 20 years in jail.

Mphuthi was 16 years old and a Grade 10 pupil at Oxford Combined School in Kempton Park at the time of the incident.

"He is innocent," his mother told Sowetan. "I know he is. My child would never do something like that. He did not rape anyone. I am going to lodge an appeal."

Kokela said her son's dreams had been shattered.

"He loved joking. Soccer was his life. He loved it with all his heart. He even trained younger boys," Kokela said.

"I wouldn't have told him what to become but I wanted him to go to school, study hard and become the best person he could be."

She recalled the night her son was arrested.

"It was a Sunday night and we had just gotten into bed. I heard a knock on the door and went to see who it was. A group of policemen walked in in the company of a woman.

"They asked me where Moeketsi was and I told them that he was sleeping in the bedroom. One of the officers said to him 'You are under arrest for the rape of this woman'. I was scared, shocked and didn't know what to do," she said.

"There was a bit of wind outside and I took his jersey and followed them. I helped him put it on," she said in a hoarse voice.

It has been a lengthy case.

"On June 12 2006 the docket went missing and the case was struck off the roll. He came home.

"We thought it was the end of our nightmares until the case was re-opened a few months later.

"I am angry. My son's life is over. By the time my son comes home he'll be an old man."

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