Cape Times / by Siphokazi Vuso
The woman allegedly sexually assaulted by DA proportional representation councillor Unathi Lasiti hopes his recent arrest will encourage “one of the other victims” who were reluctant to come forward as they feared losing their jobs, to speak out.
Lasiti is expected back in court over allegations of sexual assault following a complaint lodged by his former colleague, Zintle Khobeni de Lange at the Woodstock police station in 2021.
Lasiti allegedly “tried to force himself on her” while working as a volunteer for an organisation in Observatory in 2015.
She claimed she was woken up by Lasiti “pulling up her skirt and trying to force himself on her”, when her house-mates were out.
However Lasiti, through his lawyer, denied the allegations, with his legal team saying they believed political games were being played in court.
Police spokesperson Wesley Twigg said Lasiti appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday and was out on bail.
The case was postponed to October 7 for further investigation.
Speaking to the Cape Times, Khobeni De Lange welcomed the developments in the case, saying she had “begun to give up hope”.
Detailing the incident, she said: “I was shouting, crying, and cursing. I was beyond shocked. He then started apologising…saying he didn’t know I would have an issue with this.”
The 30-year-old said she was only coming forward now because she was “ready and stronger” to speak out.
“I was beginning to give up hope because of everything else that’s happened over the past couple of months – the intimidation and victimisation directed towards my family, the lack of communication from the criminal justice system, particularly SAPS.
“I still cannot say exactly how I feel at this point because of my experience with the criminal justice system as a woman who’s been subjected to violence and subsequently failed by the same justice system. I do however hope that the arrest encourages the others to also come forward and speak up against the perpetrators. Because of the victimisation my family has experienced, one of the other victims is now reluctant to come forward as they fear losing their jobs. I hope that this arrest will encourage them to speak out.”
Lasiti’s legal representative Andre Johnston said they would submit representations to the senior public prosecutor on the matter. “My client has denied the allegations. I’ve informed the court that we will submit representations to the senior public prosecutor. I am of the view (although) given that the charges are sufficiently serious, that political games are playing out in court,” he said.
DA provincial spokesperson Jaco Londt said the party would respond in due course. “There is a watching brief on the case. We will comment when new information is available or if there is progress in the case,” he said.
City of Cape Town Speak Felicity Purchase said they would look into the matter.
“The Office of the Speaker is not aware of the above charge, and will ascertain the facts surrounding the matter and decide how to proceed accordingly,” said Purchase.