AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit was today shocked by the developments in one of the cases of child abuse in Brits in which the Unit is currently involved. This follows after the court once again postponed the case against two men and the mother of a young girl. The accused persons stand accused on various charges of rape of a young girl who was four when the alleged crimes were committed in 2018. The postponement follows after the court indicated that the regional court magistrate was sick and that no relief magistrate had been arranged. The case could also not be postponed to February, because the regional court magistrate would by then probably have been transferred to Ga-Rankuwa and no new appointment has been made yet. The presiding magistrate could also not make contact with the regional court president to determine when a new magistrate would be available.
“It seems that the State’s so-called commitment to the fight against violence against women and children has now finally become lip-service. How can the Department of Justice and courts allow that this case of horrific child abuse, which has been dragging for such a long time due to the ineptness of the NPA, cannot proceed simply because a court isn’t available and no further arrangements have been made,” says Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.
According to Adv. Nel, this case exemplifies the collapse of our criminal justice system and it is a shame that the victims of crime are being denied justice as a result thereof. The collapse of the criminal justice system was discussed at an AfriForum conference on 18 October 2021 and the tendency to postpone cases rather than prosecute has now once again been confirmed. “Here we have a victim who was four years old at the time of the alleged incidents and now, after three years, has still not been able to testify about it. This places unnecessary pressure on children to testify after such a long time about something so traumatic,” says Adv. Nel.
Furthermore, the Private Prosecution Unit, in November 2021 welcomed the confirmation made by Adv. S. Mzinyathi, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Pretoria, to the Unit that this case would be transferred to senior prosecutors in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court. On 9 December 2021 the prosecutor in Brits, however, indicated that she was not aware of the DPP’s instruction and the accused’s lawyer was also not in court on that day, because he allegedly had COVID-19. The case was then postponed to today in order to determine a trial date.
“Inexplicably the instruction of the DPP has supposedly changed and an advocate from the office of the DPP will prosecute the matter in Brits. As predicted in December 2021 the ineptness of the prosecuting authority has now led to a further delay. The Private Prosecution Unit welcomes the fact that a state advocate has been appointed to prosecute the matter and we will continue to monitor the proceedings,” says Adv. Nel.
A provisional date for pretrial proceedings has been set for 23 March 2022.