Trial Of Khayelitsha Dance Teacher Accused Of Raping 17 Minors Begins

Press Statement for Immediate Release

In February 2010 a young girl living in Khayelitsha told her friend that she had been raped by her dance teacher. Her friend retold the story to a teacher who in turn reported the matter to the police. Police soon arrested Mlulami Gagu, at the time a traditional dance teacher who taught young girls in Khayelitsha.

When Gagu was first arrested and initial investigations were finalised, the State alleged that he had raped eight girls between the ages of five and twelve years old over a two year period. However, within months approximately 30 parents had come forward alleging that Gagu had raped their daughters, including some from the Eastern Cape where he had previously worked as a dance teacher.

It is alleged that Gagu would ask two girls to stay behind after class to help clean up. He would then lock the door and rape them. He allegedly then bribed or threatened them not to tell their parents. The court also learnt that Gagu had two previous convictions for rape. This begs the question as to why he was ever allowed to teach young girls unsupervised.

The trial had been scheduled to commence in October 2011. However, the adding of further charges resulted in delays – it has now been two and a half years since Gagu was first arrested. He has remained in custody during this period, because the State considers him a flight risk, that he would be a continued danger to young girls in the area and for his own safety. Six weeks have been set aside for the trial which is expected to last until mid-September and will be heard at the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court.

Having monitored many criminal cases at the Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court we have seen numerous failures on the part of the police and greater criminal justice system to dispense justice timeously and with consideration for victims and families. In November 2011 the SJC and other Khayelitsha-based civil society organisations lodged an official complaint with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, requesting that she appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the systemic and continued failures of the Khayelitsha police and criminal justice system. We are expecting the Premier to make her decision in the coming weeks.

All cases of rape and sexual assault are shocking, but this is a particularly heinous example because of the number of victims, their age and the circumstances. We hope that this case, unlike many we have monitored, will run smoothly and that victims and families will be able to find some form of closure once the trial is concluded.

The Social Justice Coalition will be gathering at the Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court tomorrow, Monday 30 July at 9h00 to mark the beginning of this trial. Our criminal justice task team will be in court for the duration of the trial to monitor its progress and offer support to the victims and their families. All media is encouraged to attend.

For further comment please contact:

Joel Bregman           072 769 0100

Angy Peter                078 371 4147

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