Pretoria – Young women, including a 16-year-old, spoke out on Tuesday against a man pretending to be a photographer for a modelling agency who allegedly lured them to his flat in the Pretoria city centre and raped them.
The 30-year-old man, who cannot be named due to the nature of the crime, has been arrested and charged with rape.At least eight victims had come forward so far,- and it is believed there could be more if a statement he made to one of the girls – that he previously operated in Cape Town – proves true.
One of the victims who spoke to the Pretoria News, said the man initiated contact with them on Facebook, telling them he was interested in working with them as he owned a clothing line. He offered them an opportunity to model his designs.
His modus operandi was to set up an appointment at the Union Buildings for a photo shoot, said the girls, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“He contacted me on Facebook and said he wanted me to be an ambassador for his brand. He said we needed to do a series of three photo shoots, the first of which would serve as an audition,” said one.
“He said the clothes we would be using for the photo shoot would not be appropriate to wear in public and suggested we go to his flat.”
The 19-year-old said she was under the impression that she was being afforded an opportunity to propel her career as a model, breaking into the hard-to-crack industry.
“But when we got to his flat near Burgers Park, he turned into a monster and lost his temper for no reason. He attempted to kiss me while he was feeling me up. I told him I didn’t want him to do that,” she said.
“He told me to wear attire that I wasn’t comfortable with and said I shouldn’t be afraid because he would help me slip into it.
“He came closer and held my hand. We started fighting when I realised all was not above board. It was at that point that he overpowered and raped me,” she said.
After the ordeal, she said she did not lay charges against the man but confronted him over the phone.
The woman said she was reluctant to lay charges because she wanted to break into the industry and feared that a legal matter would attract negative attention.
Another victim said she too was recruited in a similar manner, but was fortunate not to have been raped.
“I first paid R100 for the first photo shoot, after which he said he would inform me if I qualified for a second session or not. At the second stage another R100 was required for the pictures,” she said.
“But after the second shoot, he told me that I qualified for a third which was to take place at his flat. He said the outfits I would model were too revealing for us to conduct the shoot in public.”
However, the photo shoot did not take place as she had an exam on that day.
The third victim said she only took part in two photo shoots before realising that something was amiss. “I knew something was wrong because every time we had a shoot there were never other people around.
“When he noticed that I was becoming aware of what he was doing, he became aggressive and eventually stopped calling me for photo shoots. I was then disqualified,” she said.
She said the man would soften up his victims by showering them with compliments.
“He told me how beautiful I was and that I was the best he’d ever seen or worked with. The other victims said the compliments were followed by an invitation to his flat for a private shoot in clothes he said were too revealing for a public space.
“But in my case I was very lucky. I began asking questions about the way he operated. He got angry with me and became violent. That’s when I decided to leave.
“Earlier, he told me that he moved his business from Cape Town and was looking to re-establish it in Joburg and Pretoria, but needed models to do so.”
Advocate Lehlohonolo Maphelela told the Pretoria News that he accompanied one of the girls to the police station where charges were laid.
“The girl is only 16. Her father informed me about what happened. I later discovered there were more girls who had gone through a similar experience,” Maphelela said.
Police spokeswoman Captain Augustinah Selepe said the man was arrested on Saturday and charged with rape.
He appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday and will appear again soon, she said.