Acquitted AB Xuma primary patroller appeals to community to accept him back
The school patroller who was accused of sexually abusing young girls at a Soweto school maintains he never touched or raped the pupils.
Johannes Molefe, 58, a former school patroller at AB Xuma Primary School in Orlando East, spoke out for the first time yesterday following his acquittal on rape and sexual assault charges.
Molefe told Sowetan that he cried the whole week in prison when he was arrested and charged with rape and assault of the young girls.
"Every time the matter came to my head I would cry. I tried to console myself by praying at night but I would find myself crying again. When other inmates asked why I was crying, I would tell them that I couldn't help myself."
The father of five girls was speaking from the comfort of his sister's home yesterday - sitting on a pile of bricks with a bucket of water between his feet, washing his T-shirts - a few hours after his acquittal.
He denied that he ever touched the girls.
In acquitting Molefe, acting judge Peet Johnson of the South Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge on the East Rand, described the case as a "comedy of errors".
Johnson said the manner in which the teachers, police and the Teddy Bear Clinic handled the children had contaminated the case. "I have no doubt that they (the children) influenced each other one way or another," he said.
Most of the young girls testified that Molefe had touched their private parts. The girls claimed the abuse occurred in 2017. But Molefe maintained his innocence throughout.
Molefe said the accusations against him were pure bad luck. He said he found the teachers fighting at the school over the principal.
"I found the teachers fighting at the school. There was no peace. I was used as a weapon by people who did not want the principal," he said.
He said his wish was for his Orlando community to accept the court's decision that he was innocent.
"I grew up in Orlando and I was born at Bara (Baragwanath). Orlando is my home.
"I would like to live in peace now that I'm back and have not been found guilty.
"I am pleading with my community to accept me back. I used to patrol the streets to protect women who were violated by men when they went to work. I am not a bad person at all," he said.
Molefe said he had never been arrested before or violated a woman. "I love children. I took care of my children from a young age. I used to change their nappies and bathe them. I would never harm a young child," he said.
The Gauteng department of education said it was saddened by the acquittal.
"It is quite a sad moment for us, but we need to respect the judgment," spokesperson t Steve Mabona said outside the court.
He said a process was already under way to ensure that educators underwent training to report these type of cases. "It is an indication that when it comes to training our educators we need to do more.
"All those elements... we need to go back as the department to say, 'when you receive such a complaint what is it that you need to do, how are you going to report it, who is going to be in charge?' so that you don't contaminate the case," he said.
The judge said he was not satisfied that the state had proved its case and described the state and police investigations as "unsatisfactory".
Johnson said proper procedures were not followed when drafting the charges and the case was poorly investigated.
He said children were called in one classroom and asked if Molefe abused them.
He said the prosecution did not adhere to the code of conduct in cases of this manner .
"It is not the prosecution's job to get a conviction at all costs," he said.
Johnson said the girls were not credible witnesses. He also said numerous errors were made during the trial and questioned the credibility of several witnesses.