AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit once again today in the Brits Regional Court experienced that the government’s so-called commitment to the fight against violence against women and children is mere lip service. This follows after a case of child molestation of a little girl (now 10), which was already reported four years ago and still has not gone to trial, was once again postponed – this time until 29 May 2023. The insufficient reason given by the state prosecutor for this further delay, is that the state wants to complete all hearings that have been partially heard before the two parents, who allegedly molested and neglected their child, can be tried.
In this case, one of the accused allegedly raped and sexually assaulted his five-year-old stepdaughter. He also allegedly assaulted her with a belt and covered her mouth during the attacks when she cried. According to evidence, the child’s mother was aware of the alleged rape and heard her daughter crying night after night.
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit became involved in this and several similar cases of serious sexual abuse of children in Brits in July 2021 after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), despite overwhelming evidence, withdrew the charges against some of the accused. After the unit became involved, the charges against the parents of this little girl were reinstated.
“However, the reinstatement of the charges is scant consolation when one considers that this 10-year-old girl will be expected to testify about the most traumatic experiences of her young life – years after they happened to her. We have also experienced that prosecutors (especially in Brits) tend to withdraw cases like this because, according to them, the child is not capable of testifying. It is true that cases where children are the victims are more difficult to prosecute, but where the state makes the necessary effort, it is not impossible. However, it appears that this commitment is lacking,” says Natasha Venter, Advisor at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.
According to Venter, the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children mean nothing if there is no improvement at the level where it actually counts – our courts.