Gavin Donnolly, a yearlong friend of Celeste Gouws, today in the Regional Court in Somerset East testified in the trial of Andile Memese who is standing trial on one count of rape and one count of housebreaking with the intention to rape. His testimony, as well as video footage of the night of the alleged rape points to Memese quite possibly putting something into the drink of Celeste Gouws in order to drug her. Various residents of the town also protested against gender-based violence outside the court this morning in support of Gouws.
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, under the leadership of Adv. Gerrie Nel, represents Gouws in this case. Gouws was allegedly raped by Memese in her own home on 2 September 2017. The Director of Public Prosecutions in the Eastern Cape refused to prosecute Memese, despite overwhelming evidence against him. The NPA’s reason for not prosecuting was simply that Memese “saw his chance and took it”.
Donnolly also testified that Gouws contacted him on WhatsApp on the night of the alleged crime, because she was uncomfortable with Memese in her house. (Memese asked to bath in her house, because the flat on the property in which he and his then girlfriend were living did not have a bath.) According to the witness, as well as video footage, Memese was walking around only in his towel when Donnolly arrived at Celeste’s house.
Donnolly testified that Memese, moments after his arrival at Gouw’s house, joined him and Gouws in the kitchen and that the three of them drank wine. According to the video footage that was shown in court today of what happened that night, it seems that Memese at one point exchanged drinking glasses with Gouws. Thereafter the video footage shows Gouws becoming drowsy and even falling asleep at times while sitting at the table, and also walking in an ungainly manner – Donnolly’s testimony also confirms this. Thereafter Gouws fell and the accused and Donnolly put her to bed.
Donnolly then insisted that Memese leave the house with him and locked up the house. According to Donnolly’s testimony, he and Memese walked away whereafter Memese, a few streets from Gouws’s house, said that he was going back to the flat, because his girlfriend had said that she was on her way home. Gouws informed Donnoly the following morning that she had been raped and he helped her to open a case with the police.
“We are pleased that the case could finally proceed today after various postponements from the defence. We are also overjoyed by the support that we received outside court this morning from a community who has had enough of gender-based violence, as well as the state’s inability to protect women and children. This highlights the importance of our involvement in cases where victims of the so-called pandemic of gender-based violence have been failed by the state. It rejuvenates us in our fight for justice, as well as being a voice for the voiceless victims,” says Andrew Leask, Chief Investigator at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.
The private prosecutor’s case will continue tomorrow.