THE HIGH COURT OF SWAZILAND
CASE NO. 143/02
K.P. NKAMBULE –J
CROWN MS WAMALA
ACCUSED MS VILAKAZI
accused person is charged with the rape of a 15 year-old girl.
crown alleges that upon or about 20th September, 2000 and at or near
Logoba area in the Manzini region, the Accused did wrongfully and
intentionally have unlawful sexual intercourse with Thulie Lukhele
without her consent, and did thereby commit the crime of rape.
crown further alleges that this rape is accompanied by aggravating
circumstances as envisaged under Section 185 (bis) of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act, 1938 as amended in that:
the time of the commission of the crime complainant was a female
minor of fifteen (15) years.
that the Accused is guilty of contravening Section 3 (1) of the Girls
and Women's Protection Act No. 39/1920. In that upon or about the
20th September, 2000 and at or near Logoba area in the district of
Manzini, the Accused did intentionally have carnal connection with
Thulie Lukhele, a female aged (15) fifteen years.
Accused has pleaded not guilty to both the main charge of rape and
the alternative charge.
first witness for the crown called was PW1 Thulie Lukhele, the
complainant. This witness told the court that she stays at Nsangwini
in the Mankayane sub region. She testified that on the 20th September
2000 she went to Logoba where she was sent by her grand mother. She
was sent to the home of her aunt Delisile Lukhele. Whilst there she
asked from her aunt Delisile to visit one of her aunts Gabsile
Lukhele at Mhlaleni. On her way to Mhlaleni she met two boys. One of
the boys proposed love to her and then took her hat. The boy who was
not proposing love to her was wearing a uniform from one of the
security companies. The other boy was wearing private clothing.
followed the two boys begging for her hat until they reached the
water tanks at Logoba. They then grabbed her and took her to a house
nearby. The Accused before court remained with her in the house, and
the other boy left. Accused then grabbed the complainant and
her. According to complainant she fought with the Accused but she was
overpowered. The Accused ended up on top of the complainant and he
produced his penis and inserted it into PW1's vagina. After he was
through he got off. After some time he repeated the exercise once
to complainant he was freed by the Accused in the following morning.
She proceeded towards Gabsile Lukhele's homestead. On arrival there
she found that her aunt Delisile had been there to look for her. She
then proceeded to Logoba and on arrival she related the story to her
matter was reported to the police. The police took her to the R.F.M.
Hospital in Manzini where she was examined by a medical practitioner.
second crown witness, Nondumiso Norah Nkambule told the court that
she stays at Logoba with Delisile Lukhele who is her cousin. She
testified that on the day in question PW1 came to Logoba from
Nsangwini at Mankayane to pay them a visit. She came at 9.00 a.m. and
at about 3.00 p.m. she left to visit her aunt Gabsile at Mhlaleni.
She was supposed to return on the same day. She never returned.
According to PW2 they woke up in the morning and went to Mhlaleni at
Gabsile's homestead and they never found the complainant. As they
were still worried as to the whereabouts of the complainant they saw
her coming. They asked her where she had been. She then told them
that she was abducted by two boys who first proposed love to her and
later on grabbed her hat. She followed them demanding her hat.
to PW2, complainant told them that the two boys then took her into
Accused house. The other boy went away and she was left with the
Accused. While they were alone in the room the Accused undressed
and proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her. According to PW2
the complainant was crying when she reported the incident. They then
took her to Matsapa Police Station to report a rape complaint.
Delsile Lukhele told the court that she knows the complainant and
that she was born in 1987. The witness stated that the complainant is
her niece and that her (complainant's) mother died in 1993. She said
the complainant was born after a child who died in 1986.
crown then called PW4, the investigating officer 3956 Constable L.
Mngometulu. The officer told the court how the matter was reported to
him whilst he was on duty, and how he carried out his investigations
which led to the arrest of the Accused.
the end of the crown case the Accused was brought to his defence. His
account of events is that on the day in question, the 30th September,
2000 he was at home. At 10.00 a.m. he went to visit his friend at
Mahlabathini. On arrival there he found that his friend was on the
way to visit him (Accused).
their way to Accused house and before reaching Logoba Butchery they
met Thulie. He proposed love to her and she agreed 20 minutes later.
Accused then asked her where she was going. She said she was going to
Mhlaleni. When they arrived at Logoba Butchery the Accused asked
complainant to accompany him to his room so that he could give her
money to board a bus. On arrival at his room he gave her the money.
to Accused they stayed in his room in the company of his friend for
two hours. His friend then requested him to accompany him to
place of employment. They spent some time at his friend's place of
his return he found complainant in his room. When she asked her why
she was still there, she said she could not go because it was
raining. They stayed in the room until it was dark. At 7.00 p.m.
complainant asked the Accused to accompany her to her aunt's house in
Mhlaleni. Accused refused to accompany her. The reason for refusal
was that he was afraid because there were thugs in the area and they
would harm them. They agreed that he would accompany her in the
the morning the Accused accompanied complainant to the station as he
was going to work. On Friday the 22nd September 2000 police came in
Accused' house in the company of complainant and arrested the
argument Miss Wamala for the crown argued that the crown has proved
its case beyond reasonable doubt in that there is no dispute that
sexual intercourse did take place and according to the crown evidence
this was not by consent of the complainant.
the alternative charge Miss Wamala stated that though there was no
documentary proof regarding the age of the complainant, PW3 Delisile
Lukhele who is PWl's aunt told the court that the complainant was
born in 1987. The event which took place before the complainant was
born was the death of a child who was born in 1986.
Zondi for the defence advanced argument that the crown has failed to
discharge the onus resting on it and that is proof beyond reasonable
doubt. She stated that if complainant did not consent to sexual
intercourse she might have raised an alarm. She stated that when we
for Inspection in loco we observed that the Accused house was
centrally situated among other houses in the homestead and as such if
complainant had raised an alarm members of the homestead would have
heard and come to her rescue.
second point raised on behalf of the Accused was that though the
Accused alleges that she was raped, the medical report stated that
there were no spermatozoa found in the vaginal smears taken to the
laboratory for examination.
the alternative charge the defence submitted that there was no
documentary proof regarding the age of the complainant.
is common cause that the Accused had sex with the complainant. The
question is whether complainant consented to sexual intercourse with
Accused told the court that he proposed love to complainant, who
agreed twenty minutes later. He then suggested that they go to his
house so that he could give her some money to board a bus to
Mhlaleni. According to Accused complainant agreed. What is not clear
in the evidence of the Accused is why he then decided to accompany
his friend and leave the complainant in his house alone. The earlier
agreement was that he would give her the money to board a bus to
Mhlaleni. He actually derailed her from his way to Mhlaleni in order
to help her find easier means of transport. Why then did he leave her
in the room instead of accompanying her to the station and helping
her to board the bus as arranged.
the foregoing one would say that the intention of the Accused was to
keep the complainant in his room until it was dark so that he could
spend the night with her.
to complainant as soon as they came at Accused house his friend left.
The Accused asked complainant to join him in bed. As complainant
refused Accused grabbed her and started undressing her. They had
sexual intercourse. What raises eyebrows in the account of events is
that when we went for inspection in loco we observed that Accused
room was centrally situated among other rooms in the homestead. We
also noticed that there are a lot of people staying within the
homestead. If somebody was assaulted in the manner complainant stated
she could have easily raised an alarm. She told the court that she
tried to struggle with the Accused but that she was overpowered. She
does not tell us why she did not raise an alarm.
stated above the room in which the alleged rape took place is
strategically situated in the homestead. It beats all understanding
why the complainant did not raise an alarm. The only explanation
would be that she did not raise an alarm because she consented to
the alternative charge Accused told the court that he enquired from
complainant as to her age. Complainant told Accused that she was
sixteen years of age. PW3 told the court that the complainant was
born in 1987. She did not produce complainant's birth certificate.
She however, stated that complainant comes after a child who died who
was born in 1986. She however, did not produce the death certificate
of the said child.
charge sheet states that at the commission of the offence complainant
was 15 years of age. If she was born in 1987 she cannot have been 15
years old in the year 2000 when she was allegedly raped. She could
have been 13 years of age.
the foregoing it is clear that the complainant's age has not been
proved. It is further clear that the Accused was deceived as to the
age of complainant. In this regard the law is quite clear that there
is this absolute prohibition of intercourse with a girl of 16. This
is in terms of Section 3 (1) of the Girls and Women Protection Act
39/1920. The onus is upon the Accused to show that he was deceived
either by the looks of the complainant or by complainant herself
telling lies as to her age. See RVT 1960 (4) SA 685 at 686 (page 8
para 2) in Rex Vs Mfanasi Dlamini 1979/81 SLR 211 Nathan CJ was of
the view that mens rea is not an element of an offence under Secion 3
(1) of the Act. In my view I respectfully differ with Nathan CJ's
Judgement on this point. I do not believe that the legislature of the
time intended that strict liability should apply to offences under
the Act (See The King Vs Valdema Dengo review case No. 843/88 per
Rooney J. at page 2)
In Swaziland it is the maturity and not the age of a girl which ought
to be the deciding factor. It is an offence for a man over the age of
sixteen to have intercourse with a girl under that age who is not a
prostitute (See proviso to Sub-section (3), however, I am satisfied
that the maxim actus non facit reurn nisi mens sit rea should be
applied to all offences under Section 3 of the Girls and Women's
the circumstances of this case and for the reasons I have given above
I find that the crown has failed to prove its case beyond a
as to the guilt of the Accused on the charge of rape; and also the
alternative charge that of contravening Section 3 (1) of Act 39/1920.
He is accordingly acquitted and discharged.