LOCKS and chains on a young Walmer township woman's bedroom door failed to keep out a rapist who sodomised her at knife point in the middle of the night.
In January 2011, her door was bolted shut with a thick chain and padlock, but the rapist kicked in the bottom half, crawled through and attacked her. The woman may not be named because she is the victim of a sex crime.
The man she identified as her attacker was acquitted in the Port Elizabeth Regional Court yesterday due to a lack of evidence – almost a year after the matter went to court.
The defence brought the application to have Siyabulela Dywili acquitted on the basis that the state had failed to make a prima facie case. The complainant was the state’s only witness.
Dywili, 28, also from Walmer township, had pleaded not guilty to the charges of housebreaking, theft and rape. He claimed he had been at a tavern with friends at the time of the attack.
Lizette Visage from the Legal Aid Board of South Africa argued that it had been too dark in the complainant’s shack for her to positively identify the accused. She said the only source of light had been a flood light outside the shack.
Only a portion of her door had been open and therefore only a limited amount of light would have been let in.
According to the 25-year-old complainant’s testimony, her alleged rapist had been wearing a hooded jacket at the time of the offence.
"She could have made a mistake,” Visage added.
Forensic evidence also failed to link the accused to the rape.
State prosecutor Ismart Serfontein agreed that due to the complainant being a single witness, the cautionary rule needed to be applied.
"But the witness honestly believed it was him [Dywili],” she argued.
"The state is reluctantly conceding that this identification is not reliable enough on its own and that the court should rule in favour of the accused.”
Magistrate Dan Ngoqo agreed.
He said although it was common cause that the break-in and rape had occurred, the court was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the accused who committed the offences.
Following Dywili’s acquittal, the complainant said she accepted the court’s ruling, but still feared for her life.
She said if it was not Dywili who raped her, this meant her perpetrator had been walking free all along.
"I have fixed my door and it is still locked, but it has been proven that anyone can get in.”
She said she felt vulnerable.