Girl's weeping forces postponement of her sexual assault case

Pupils play cricket at AB Xuma Primary School in Soweto where two school children were allegedly molested by an investigating officer on Monday.
Pupils play cricket at AB Xuma Primary School in Soweto where two school children were allegedly molested by an investigating officer on Monday.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

An eight-year-old girl broke down and cried when she was repeatedly asked questions about incidents that happened on the day she was allegedly assaulted by a school patroller.

The girl, who was seven and in grade one at the time of the incident, told the South Gauteng High Court sitting at Palm Ridge magistrate’s court that Johannes Molefe touched her on her buttocks and breasts.

Molefe, 58, is on trial for allegedly raping two girls and sexually assaulting 11 others at AB Xuma Primary School in Soweto in 2017.

Dressed in a light blue shirt and dark-blue jeans, Molefe did not show any emotion or make eye-contact when the girl broke down during cross examination.

She testified in-camera with the assistance of an intermediary.

The girl told the court that Molefe sent her and two friends to fetch a plate of cooked cabbage at the school’s kitchen after school. When they returned with the cabbage, they found Molefe at the guardhouse at the school gate where her friends left her behind.

“Mkhulu [Molefe] then touched me on my buttocks and he also touched my breast. I then left,” she said.

The girl said she was wearing a school dress when the incident happened.

A few minutes into the cross examination by Molefe’s lawyer, Lunga Qoqo, the child was excused to go to the bathroom.

Qoqo was cross examining the child on a statement she made to the police.

When the child returned after a few minutes, Qoqo questioned why her initial statement to the police was different to the testimony she had given in court. A few moments later the child broke down and cried

Judge Peet Johnson asked the girl if she wanted to continue, to which she responded in the affirmative.

“You were coached and ended up adding things,” said Qoqo to which the girl responded by saying “no”.

“In your statement, you never mentioned to police that you were touched on your breast and buttocks,” Qoqo continued. The girl responded: “I told them”.

Qoqo continued to say: “Mkhulu denies that he touched your bum and breast." The child replied by saying “I don’t know” and then broke down and cried.

Johnson told the child to step down and postponed the proceedings to next week.

The child wept so hard that the intermediary had to put her on her lap and wrapped her arms around her to comfort her.

The trial continues.

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