Rape-accused Bull walks free, but career in ruins
Charge against Khwezi Mafu has been withdrawn, but the episode has cost him dearly - and he's not entirely in the clear
A case of rape was formally withdrawn against Blue Bulls contract player Khwezi Mafu on Tuesday, but the allegations came at a great cost to his rugby career.
Magistrate Kenny Cooney told Mafu, 20, that he was free to go after the state struck the matter from the court roll.
Prosecutor Kenny van Biljon told the Port Elizabeth Regional Court he had been unable to trace a key state witness to consult with him and therefore could not proceed with the matter at this stage.
But while Mafu walked out of court a free man, the state continues to hold the reins and can place the matter back on the roll.
However, until such time – if it comes – the case continues to hang over the heads of both the young complainant and the accused.
Mafu’s lawyer, Danie Gouws, felt his client had been treated unfairly from the get-go.
Gouws said that, at just 19 and with no criminal record, Mafu had been forced to spend two months in custody at the North End Prison before eventually being released on bail of R10,000.
It was alleged that Mafu raped an 18-year-old woman after a social gathering in a flat in Central in December 2017.
The rugby player claimed that the sex was consensual and the young woman, who had allegedly been drinking and smoking dagga at the time, had falsely accused him of rape because she had stolen his wallet and cellphone.
Gouws said after the allegations were brought to light, Mafu’s contract at the Blue Bulls was affected in that his salary was chopped in half.
“He could not be considered for the Blue Bulls Super Rugby team and as a result of the allegations he also missed out on the U/20 world rugby championships in France, where he more than likely would have been selected as captain,” Gouws said.
He said Mafu’s father had been forced to resign from his job three years early to cash out his pension fund to pay for Mafu’s legal fees.
Confident of Mafu’s acquittal and therefore eager to instead proceed to trial, defence advocate Terry Price SC, instructed by Gouws, had argued that the “missing witness” could not take the matter any further.
Price suggested that Van Biljon lead the evidence of the complainant and other witnesses in the meantime.
“In withdrawing the charges when all other witnesses are present at court, we believe the state is conceding that they cannot rely on the complainant’s evidence alone,” Price told Cooney.
In a statement to the police, the girl had claimed that while walking home on the night of December 28 2017, Mafu came from behind, tripped her and dragged her into the bushes.
She alleged he forced her to perform a sexual act on him and then raped her more than once.