The Nigerian man accused of kidnapping and raping a 12-year-old girl in Mamelodi, South Africa was on Thursday denied bail in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.
Augustine Obono, 36, is also facing a charge of human trafficking, which could see him having to pay a R100 million fine or face life in prison if convicted.
The State, led by advocate Andrew Mphaga, opposed his bail application. The investigating officer, Constable Mapule Mahlaba, submitted an affidavit detailing why the accused should be denied bail.
She said the accused was a Nigerian national with no fixed address as the caretaker of the flat he listed his address said he moved into the room on the day of his arrest on December 1. There was no lease agreement.
The accused also could not furnish the police officer with a fixed address for his place of employment, but said he was a hair stylist “in town somewhere”.
Mahlaba also indicated that she received a petition from an organisation called the Progressive Women’s Movement, with 261 signatures asking the court to deny bail.
She said the girl was walking to a nearby park to meet friends when she encountered an unknown woman who convinced her to go to the accused’s flat in Sunnyside.
The girl said she slept in the flat with the unknown woman with the understanding that she would return home the following day, but when she woke up the next morning the accused was sitting on the side of the bed next to her. The woman has since disappeared.
“The applicant then forced the victim to make him money by prostituting herself and when the victim refused, the applicant assaulted her and raped her repeatedly,” the officer said.
He allegedly locked her up in the flat, sometimes without food, and supplied her with drugs. His plan was to get her addicted so he could control her.
“She eventually succumbed and worked for the applicant as a prostitute and handed the money received to the applicant. Obono allegedly forgot to lock the security door, and the victim asked the people outside to open for her. The accused got into an altercation with the people helping her, but she screamed and he eventually opened the door for her. That was how she escaped.
This was on December 1, two months after she was abducted. Obono was arrested the same day. The accused, in his affidavit read out by his Legal Aid attorney Donald du Plessis, denied all the allegations. He said he intended to plead not guilty to the charges.
Obono faces Schedule 6 charges and the responsibility was on him and his defence team to prove exceptional circumstances to warrant his being released on bail.
He said he was not married but had a girlfriend and an eight-month-old baby living in Durban. He indicated that he was self-employed as a hair-stylist in a salon in Church Street and earned R2 500 a month.
He also said he had a fixed address at a flat in Devenish Court in Sunnyside, Pretoria, a room leased to him by the caretaker, and that he had paid R800 towards the R1 200 rent. He said he moved into the room on the same day that he was arrested.
He also said he had no previous convictions or pending cases and was in South Africa as an asylum seeker. His documents would expire in March. He said he was not a flight risk because he had a child living in South Africa and wanted to apply for citizenship.
He said he had a television set and a home theatre system which he did not want to lose if he were to run away from facing trial. He also did not want to forfeit his bail money to the State by running away.
The State said, however, his child – which it did not believe existed – or whatever assets would not be enough reason to escape two possible life sentences.
“I am in agreement with the prosecution that the reason why exceptional circumstances have not been told to the court is because none are in existence,” said magistrate Lesetja Mphahlele.
He said the offences he was facing were of a very serious nature which carried life sentences if he were convicted and there was a strong likelihood that he would evade trial.
“Common sense tells me a man cannot wait to be sentenced to life in order to preserve a television set and a home theatre system. Common sense tells me a man cannot wait to be sentenced to life because he is having a child in South Africa. For the reasons I have mentioned the court is not prepared to grant bail.”
The matter was postponed to February 8 for further investigations.