‘If she lied, she’d have to be Shakespeare’: Preteen nails rapist
Judge praises 'vivid' testimony of 12-year-old against ex-EMPD official accused of raping and trafficking girls
The horrific testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim has taken centre stage during the judgment against a high-ranking Ekurhuleni metro police department official accused of kidnapping, raping and trafficking young girls in Soweto.
Adam Cummings is facing 14 charges of kidnapping, human trafficking and rape for an alleged spree in 2015 involving two teenagers and a nine-year-old girl with the help of alleged 25-year-old accomplice Tebogo Johanna Maregele.
Calling Cummings an “accomplished liar”, the judge convicted him of the 12-year-old’s rape, with Maragele also convicted of the rape as an accomplice.
While the judge had made significant progress in his judgment through an exhaustive summary of the proceedings on Tuesday afternoon, he had not yet ruled on all charges, with the case being postponed to Wednesday morning for finalisation.
Bail was revoked for the pair after their conviction on the first charge.
The state has claimed the pair kidnapped their targets in Soweto, took them to secluded areas to allow Cummings, the head of the EMPD security division at the time, to sexually assault them and then try to buy or threaten them into silence.
This week at the High Court in Johannesburg, Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng began his meticulously detailed judgment against the pair, although on Tuesday much of the time was spent re-examining the testimony of Bongiwe*, the now 12-year-old who in 2018 took the stand.
While her initial testimony was conducted in camera, the judge recalled large portions of her harrowing words, quoting how the child bravely described the day she claims she was kidnapped.
According to the preteen and the state’s indictment, on February 22 2015, Bongiwe, a young neighbourhood friend of Maregele, was kidnapped in Moroka.
After buying food for the child, the pair allegedly took her to an abandoned stretch of veld. Then nine years old, she was told she would be raped, and when she started crying the pair threatened to hurt her further before Cummings, then 49, allegedly raped her.
She said she was told that if she revealed the truth about what happened, she would be killed, with Cummings allegedly using his gun as part of the intimidation.
“Before that I didn’t know what rape was or what was going to be done to me, that’s why I was crying,” she told the court. She repeatedly expressed how painful the experience was, and that it was Maregele – “handling her like a baby” – who assisted the rape.
After the ordeal, the young girl was taken back to her neighbourhood, with R50 in hand and some food. However, despite the bribe and threats, she told her mother what had happened, and she was later key in identifying Cummings during an identity parade later that year.
The judge was complimentary of Bongiwe’s testimony, saying there was no possible reason to label her an unreliable witness. “If this child is telling stories, then this child is better than Shakespeare.”
He said her testimony was “vivid, graphic and unique”, meaning it would have been highly unlikely to have been fabricated.
Throughout the proceedings, Cummings has denied his alleged rape of the teenagers and child, though he admitted to having met Bongiwe through Maregele and having bought her lunch on the day of the alleged incident.
Regarding one of the 15-year-old victims, he insisted he had been in a relationship with the young woman, and that the sex had been consensual.
Mokgoatlheng was unconvinced, saying he believed Cummings had been a dishonest witness.
Yet another factor mentioned on Tuesday was a statement submitted to the court during trial, where Maregele herself, now in her mid-20s, had claimed she too was molested by Cummings when she was a minor, having met him through his mistress who lived on her street.
She admitted to providing him with young women for sex and being compensated for her work. While she initially had given this statement to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, she later withdrew her claims, and later refused to take an offer of witness protection, despite claiming Cummings had threatened her.However, despite going into a lengthy explanation of this evidence, Mokgoatlheng said he would be unable to take it into account in his ruling, and thus it could not be used as a factor to convict Cummings.* Not her real name.