Dec. 23, 2004: NRI, S. African Judge Siraj Desai among Top 100 newsmakers

NRI, SA, Judge allegedly raped a 27-year-old South African woman -In a shocking incident, a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) allegedly raped a 27-year-old South African woman, here to attend the World Social Forum (WSF), in the wee hours at a south Mumbai five-star hotel yesterday

NRI, Siraj Desai, senior judge in the Cape High Court charged with rape


Erika Gibson, news 24

Johannesburg - Judge Siraj Desai, senior judge in the Cape High Court, spent Sunday night in police cells in India after the mother of a four-month-old baby accused him of raping her.

Desai will probably appear in a Mumbai court on Monday to apply for bail.

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna confirmed on Sunday that Indian police had arrested Desai on a rape charge.

"The minister is aware that Desai was part of a group of South Africans attending a conference in India," added departmental spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

"Because of the time difference between South Africa and India, High Commissioner Maite Nkoana-Mabashabane could not provide us with more details," he said.

Desai, as vice-chairperson of the Human Rights Foundation in South Africa, was attending the World Social Forum Conference in Mumbai with 10 other South Africans when the rape allegedly took place.

The forum focussed on women's rights.

Mark David Isaacs, the husband of the plaintiff, Salome, said on Sunday that the group of South Africans retired for drinks in Desai's room after dinner and eventually only Desai and Salome were left.

She was allegedly overpowered.

When Isaacs phoned her on her cellphone at about 01:00 (Indian time) shortly after the alleged attack, she was in a state of shock and told him that she had been raped.

She was still in Desai's room at the time.

Isaacs claimed he repeatedly spoke to Desai and demanded an apology for "what he had done".

"He denied that anything happened and said we could sort things out once they were back in South Africa. He said they only had drinks.

"When I told him that I would kill him if he had raped my wife, he said he was tired and wanted to go to bed. He put the phone down in my ear.

"I warned him that my wife would file a charge with police if he showed no remorse."

Isaacs said police confiscated his wife's clothes, underwear and a used condom on Sunday morning.

"Because of her work, Salome always carries condoms. When it became clear to her that she was going to be raped, she asked that the man at least use a condom."

The Isaacses run the Bela-Bela Aids Awareness and Resource Trust.

"I am still willing to forgive Desai. My family and presumably his as well are broken.

"It is a disgrace for South Africa, but I want an apology so we can pick up the pieces and go on," Isaacs said.

Judge Dumisa Ntsebeza, who heads the South African delegation to the forum, confirmed that they had drinks in Desai's room.

According to Ntsebeza all of them left Desai's room at about 03:00.

"We did everything together as a group. Earlier we all had dinner and we all left the judge's room together.

"I was surprised to learn that Desai was being questioned by police," Ntsebeza said.

Desai's wife, Faieza, declined on to comment on the matter.