Barely a month after he narrowly escaped incarceration over charges of rape at the Village Magistrate Court, former radio and television personality, Norman Patlakwe, could see himself re-entering the dock to re- examine his innocence as the state braces to file an appeal with the High Court.
Patlakwe was found not guilty and acquitted by magistrate Oliviah Zvide on May 15th in a nail biting trial in which the magistrate herself described as the most difficult and challenging, particularly that “both parties seem to be telling the truth”.
“This is a 50/50 case,” she said on passing judgment.
The Sunday Standard understands the Directorate of Public Prosecution, spearheaded by Thabo Malambane, is working around the clock preparing documents of appeal.
“So far, the DPP has completed the heads of argument and the registry department is re-arranging the copies to be dispatched to relevant authorities,” confirmed Malambane in an interview with this paper earlier this week. He would not be dragged into revealing further details, saying the documents are not for public consumption yet. He, however, said that the application would soon be filed with the High Court and with the defence attorneys.
Currently an employee of PEEPA, Patlakwe had a brush with the law after a teenage girl, then 16, reported him of having penetrated her without protection and her consent on June 17th 2007 at Lamila Lodge in Mogoditshane.
Represented by attorney Basimane Bagopa, Patlakwe maintained his innocence during trial, arguing that the complainant was driven by jealous and malice since he once employed and fired the complainant’s relatives on gross misconduct.
Bagopa, for his part, anchored his submissions around the forensic and medical evidence, insisting none of the results linked his client to the alleged offence, particularly in the light that no vaginal swabs were detected despite the complainant admission that she never took a bath after the incident.
Assistant Superintendent Christopher Molobe centered his submissions around circumstantial evidence, citing anguish and stress of the complainant by the time she reported the matter to both the parents and the police.
“The mere fact that no spermatozoa was detected in the complainant’s vaginal swab does not advance the defence case as that is not an essential ingredient of the offence,” countered Molobe, citing a 1993 case between the state and a certain Modisaotsile who was convicted on similar circumstances.
However, none of the two convictions overwhelmingly convinced Zvide.
“This is a 50/50 case which means the evidence adduced by both sides hangs on the balance of probabilities. There is certain truth in both sides…and despite having weighed with extreme caution their versions, it is very difficult to make a ruling. However, in this similar scenario the benefit of doubt has always favoured the accused person and as such must be given to the defence.”
Although he has learnt about the state’s intention to appeal, Bagopa is understood ready to defend his client at the Supreme Court and is said to be awaiting the appeal documents.
Patlakwe could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.