Thu, 18 Oct, 2012
"People constantly look at me like I am a rapist. I want my story to appear in the paper like it did when I was arrested because I want to clear my name." These were the words of a man who was acquitted after spending close to a year in prison, accused of raping a 70-year-old woman.
Following his release from prison last year the man, 45, says all he wants now is to clear his name . Vukani resident Lulamile Gcwati told Grocott's Mail that members of his community still treat him like a rapist, even though he has been acquitted of all charges.
Gcwati was charged with house-breaking, attempted rape and rape and denied these during his formal bail application in 2010. Gcwati was denied bail and spent a year in prison while the case continued. "I became very stressed after the incident because I spent a long time in prison for something I did not do," he said.
After coming out of prison Gcwati was admitted to Fort England Psychiatric Hospital. After his release from the mental institution this year he went back to the home he shares with his son and his niece in Vukani. He says he receives a disability grant and gets treatment from Fort England.
But his life has not been the same after the year-long ordeal. He told Grocott's Mail he wanted to make sure everyone knew he was not a rapist. "They accused me of raping a woman who is more than 70 years old and I spent close to a year in prison because of that," he said.
Gcwati was accused of breaking into the home of the woman, then 70, while she was alone on 16 July 2010 and raping her. According to a doctor's certificate, there were signs of forced penetration and vaginal abrasions.
During one of his court appearances shortly after he was arrested in July 2010, Gcwati claimed he did not know what was happening to him. “I heard voices in my ears telling me to run to a nearby bush. I also smoked dagga on that day,” he admitted.
Sometimes I get mentally disturbed, and I receive treatment from Fort England hospital.” When deciding to free Gcwati last year, magistrate Thembela Mata said the evidence was from a single witness and should be viewed with caution, particularly because there were anomalies.
Mata said there was doubt about the identity of the accused, because the alleged offence had occurred in a small room, with the complainant not having had enough time to observe what was going on.
He concluded that there was no evidence on which the court could convict Gcwati.