By Jonk wa Mashamba
Rape accused City of Joburg ANC councillor, Kenneth Mgaga, has asked his party to immediately place him on voluntary leave of absence pending his trial, shortly after he was released on bail of R2000 on Monday.
He made a brief appearance in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court where he was formally charged with rape, allegedly committed on December 26.
Mgaga has denied the allegation. He submitted an affidavit in which he vowed to plead not guilty.
Outlining the nature of the allegations against the accused in court on Monday, State Prosecutor Ayanda Bakana said:
“The victim alleges that she visited her friend (the accused) on Christmas Day in Alexandra.
“She said the offence happened in the early hours of December 26. Later on that day, the accused and his friend took her to her place of residence in Tembisa.
“The next day, she went for a medical observation and was supplied with the J88 form (medical certificate). She only reported the case on December 28, ” Bakana said.
The prosecution was asked in court whether the victim had given any explanation for the late reporting of the criminal case. Bakana said no.
The State did not oppose bail on the grounds that Mgaga’s residential address was confirmed and he had no previous convictions or pending charges.
He was ordered not to interfere with his accuser.
Hours after his release on bail, Mgaga penned a letter to the ANC’s Greater Joburg secretary Dada Morero, Gauteng ANC secretary Jacob Khawe and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, asking to be placed on voluntary leave of absence.
In his letter, he said: “I note that the ANC has no current policy position on the accused stepping aside from their position and I note that the ANC NEC has not finalised any guidelines in this regard.
“However, given the seriousness of such an allegation levelled against me as well as my steadfast commitment to end all forms of gender based violence and attain a non-sexist society, I have taken a voluntary decision to request a special leave of absence with immediate effect from my position as a PR Councillor in the City of Joburg in order to allow myself an opportunity to clear my name, away from my everyday responsibilities I discharge as a public representative of the ANC,” Mgaga said.
He again pleaded his innocence – to the ANC leaders – despite the state saying in court it had a strong case against him.
“I wish to state on record that I am innocent of the alleged crime.
“I am fully committed to participating with the legal process in order to ensure a free and fair trial and resolution on this very serious matter. I remain a loyal and committed leader of the ANC and I will trust in the judicial process which guarantees my right to a free and fair trial,” Mgaga said.
At the time of writing the letter, the ANC Joburg regional executive had already placed him on suspension pending his appearance before the party’s regional integrity committee.
But ANC Joburg spokesperson Sasabona Manganye said Mgaga would be spared from any disciplinary action if he agreed to step aside voluntarily.
( This article was first published by www.iol.co.za)