The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Judge rape charge withdrawn
- Activist recants after reflection and discussion at home

Mumbai, Jan. 22: The South African delegate to the anti-globalisation conference here who accused a fellow South African judge of raping her withdrew the charge unconditionally late tonight.

In a signed statement released in Durban, the 27-year-old AIDS activist who left for home by a South African Airways flight yesterday, said: “I hereby wish to unconditionally withdraw the allegation of rape.” The statement, co-authored by her husband, added that they have instructed their lawyer to inform the Indian authorities about the withdrawal of the charge.

However, the judge’s lawyer, R.A. Khan, expressed ignorance. “It will not do,’’ he said. “She will have to withdraw her statement in India, before a proper forum, before the designated court.”

The statement, faxed to PTI, said: “Since lodging my complaint with Indian police, I have had occasion to reflect on my own the events which took place after 3 am at the Taj President hotel on January 18. I have also now had time to discuss the matter with my husband, our legal representatives and a few close friends and confidantes.”

In her police complaint, the activist had said the judge, who like her was part of the South African delegation to the World Social Forum, forced her to have sex in his hotel room after the two returned late from a pub where they had gone in a group.

The 27-year-old, who has two children, said tonight that she would like to return to normal family life and her job. This “correct” move would have been extremely difficult without her husband’s unwavering support, she said.

“I wish to thank all those friends, family and even strangers who have given me support throughout this ordeal which I can only describe as confusing and overwhelming.”

“I wish to single out Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela for her motherly and sisterly support and compassion. We cannot pay her but South Africa needs to know the extreme kindness and compassion she has shown to us. We thank her for that.”

Winnie, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, is a friend of the judge and had flown down to Mumbai to visit him in the Colaba lock-up and demonstrate in his support.

Although she was booked in the Lotus Suites hotel here till today, Winnie cut short her stay and flew back to South Africa yesterday by the same flight as the complainant.

The judge’s legal advisers refused to comment when asked if any political pressure was brought on the complainant in South Africa. They would not say either whether they were planning to press defamation charges.

But Khan said his client was put through a lot of embarrassment and inconvenience and that “no one should be able to get away scot free after filing a case in one country and withdrawing it in another”.

Legal sources said there is a provision under the Criminal Procedure Code to punish complainants for falsifying evidence and lodging concocted charges. The police, they said, are authorised to punish such offenders.

The judge, whose bail application will be heard tomorrow, will be brought to the Quila Court at 11 am. A Durban report, quoting a local radio station, said the judge had been informed of the withdrawal of charge.

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