Acquitted man to sue state for defamation
Two years ago, economically stable and with a baby on the way, Kabelo Jautse’s life was picture perfect.
His world came crashing down on 13 November 2018.
The 29-year-old was arrested and charged with indecent assault for an alleged attempted rape that happened in Sikwane village’s Manyathela ward.
He was accused of attacking a woman and fondling her breasts before unsuccessfully attempting to drag her into a nearby bush.
As his trial dragged on, Jautse was let go from his well-paid job as a sand plaster for a company subcontracted to Debswana in Orapa.
Having maintained his innocence throughout the trial, last month, on 21 September, Mochudi Magistrates Court discharged and acquitted the young father.
He is now looking to rebuild his life and intends to sue the state for defamation.
“It is clear that someone impersonated me and I was arrested and spent four days in a cell. Everyone in the village calls me a rapist. I’m not a rapist! I plan to engage Legal Guard to help me clear my name,” Jautse told The Voice in an exclusive interview this Wednesday.
His insists his name was unfairly dragged through the mud despite his verified alibi that he was watching TV with his girlfriend’s grandmother at the time of the alleged attack.
In her testimony against Jautse, the complainant, Mosa Molefe told court she was walking from her home to church at around 7pm when a man who identified himself as Kabelo Jautse approached her.
According to Molefe, Jautse said he was a nephew to the local councillor before proposing love to her.
She claimed that after rejecting his advances, he lifted her shirt and began touching her exposed breasts.
“He then pushed me to the ground and mounted me, threatening to stab me with a knife should I scream,” Molefe testified, adding it was when he attempted to drag her to a nearby bush that she screamed for help and her assailant disappeared into the night.
Molefe’s witness, Winnie Pilane told court she heard screaming while she was at her house and immediately rushed towards Kgabosereto Primary School where the shouting was coming from.
Pilane, said she arrived to find a distraught Molefe crying and her clothes soiled. She continued that Molefe then narrated how ‘she was attacked by a young man with a unique walking gait’.
According to her testimony, Pilane knew of Jautse’s unmistakable gait and, after learning he had introduced himself as the councillor’s nephew, she came to the conclusion that indeed Jautse was Molefe’s attacker.
However, Jautse, who had no legal representation, told court that on the evening in question he was at his girlfriend, Kgalaletso Phiri’s house.
He said he arrived at around 6pm and watched soapies with the girlfriend’s grandmother.
Both the girlfriend, who was heavily pregnant at the time, and her grandmother, Khumoetsile Phiri, as well as one Boitumelo Phiri, testified that the accused was watching soapies that evening when police summoned him regarding an alleged rape.
In her judgment, Magistrate, Nthabiseng Merafhe-Tladi said whilst the prosecution demonstrated that the complainant was fondled, it failed to identify the culprit.
“The evidence regarding the identity has been found wanting. The prosecution alleges the accused was wearing certain items of clothing, these were not cited before court, yet it is alleged that the suspect was arrested shortly after the commission of the offence,” she said.
Merafhe-Tladi said the complainant had no prior knowledge of the aggressor but saw the clothes they were wearing.
“This piece of evidence was critical but not adduced,” she stated.
She further noted Jautse’s alibi went unchallenged as three people highlighted he was with them at the time he was alleged to have committed the offence.
“The prosecution has been unable to adduce sufficient evidence to tie the accused to the offence. Consequently he’s accordingly acquitted and discharged!” declared the Magistrate.
Three weeks after his acquittal, Jautse, whose daughter is now 19 months old, said as well as seeking financial compensation, he plans to contact his former employers to get his job back.
“This matter ruined my life. I have to be compensated,” he concluded.