'Uber gang' members plead not guilty to rape and robbery charges

04 February 2019 - 14:57 By SHAIN GERMANER
Four men accused of using Uber rides to commit violent crimes pleaded not guilty on Monday.
Four men accused of using Uber rides to commit violent crimes pleaded not guilty on Monday.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

The four men who allegedly used the Uber e-hailing app to rape and rob Johannesburg women have pleaded not guilty to the litany of charges against them.

Elias Mankgane, Daniel Maswikaneng, Treasure Bonga and Themba Mkuwanazi – who can now be identified after pleading to the violent sexual charges they face – appeared on Monday in the South Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge. They were arrested more than two years ago.

The four men are accused of kidnapping, robbing and raping multiple women in 2016 – including Susan Dey, the mother of singer Tamara Dey - under the guise of picking them up in Uber vehicles.

Dey has since spoken out publicly about the crime, although she is yet to testify - more than two and a half years since the incident occurred - due to ongoing delays in the trial.

Last week, the prosecution was criticised by the presiding judge for the delays in the case, although prosecutor Preshelia Ranchod explained that it was the suspects' changing of legal representation that continuously stalled proceedings.

According to the charges read to the court on Monday, the gang members would attack their targets in various combinations, but in the most violent incident, all four men were involved.

The four pleaded not guilty to all 14 charges. All but Mankgane chose to remain silent on their reasons for their pleas.

Judge Ramarumo Monama told the other three accused that by not offering a plea explanation, they were essentially saying the state would simply have to prove its case against them, which they confirmed understanding.

The trial continues.