Reverend June Dolley-Major’s testimony was heard publicly for the first time as the Diocesan Tribunal into her alleged rape got underway on Thursday.
Giving testimony, 19 years after the alleged incident, Dolley-Major said she had been silenced by “canonical obedience” as she was told to “think of the church” when she had first spoken about her alleged rape incident at Makhanda, Grahamstown Seminary during 2002.
Dolley-Major’s alleged rapist pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him which includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual immorality as he was married at the time of the alleged incident, scandal of offence and the violation of canon law.
An emotional Dolley-Major recounted her ordeal to the tribunal, with further proceedings expected to continue with a medical expert set to testify on Friday.
Dolley-Major said at the time of the incident, she and her now ex-husband, were family friends of the accused and his wife.
She said it was before she was to start full-time ministry, that she, the accused, and a former friend were looking for school placement for her son.
“We arrived in Makhanda late that evening and went to our respective rooms. There was no lock on my bedroom door and I thought nothing of it. I was in bed when (the accused) came in and I sat up and asked him what he wanted. That’s when he forced himself on me. While he was on top of me I asked him to stop and I started crying.
“He used his knees to ply my legs open. I remember crying and feeling numb …He lifted my nightie and I felt his flesh on my flesh and when I realised what was happening. I asked God to kill me. I died that day,” said Dolley-Major.
Dolley-Major said after he left her room, she immediately made a telephone call to the other friend – who was at a different residence – to tell him what had happened.
“He said he would speak to both of us the next day.”
According to Dolley-Major, the friend had become a witness to her ordeal by virtue of her sharing the incident with him, while the friendship between her and her alleged rapist was “severed”.
“He is my rapist,” she said.
According to Dolley-Major, she was further traumatised when her confidante had “lied under oath” when she pursued a criminal case to get justice.
Dolley-Major intends to submit a transcript of a recorded telephone conversation made last year between herself and the friend, in which he seemingly corroborated her evidence against the accused.
In a parallel matter currently before court, the accused, who Dolley had named on the steps of the St George’s Cathedral during March, has since sought and successfully obtained an interim “gagging order” from the Western Cape High Court which prohibits Dolley from naming him on social media and publicly.
The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) has since been admitted as an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in the landmark case which is expected to be heard later this month.
The WLC said the case “will have wide consequences for womxn who choose to name their perpetrators of sexual violence publicly and on social media”.
“This worrying trend of interdicts being brought against womxn to prevent them publishing information about their experiences of gender-based violence, and those who had abused them, constitutes a violation of their constitutional right to free speech and thereby silences womxn and legitimises rape culture in South Africa,” a statement by WLC reads.
– Cape Times