The civil rights organisation AfriForum says its suspicion that a suspected rapist is being politically protected was confirmed today during an incident at the district court in Somerset East in the Eastern Cape.
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, led by Adv. Gerrie Nel, represents the victim, Celeste Gouws, who was allegedly raped in her own house in 2017 after presumably being drugged. This follows after the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Eastern Cape refused to initiate prosecution against the suspect.
A group of people, some wearing ANC T-shirts, prevented the victim and AfriForum’s other witnesses from entering the court premises. The victim was also threatened and told that her days were numbered.
The police finally stepped in after members of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit intervened.
When the proceedings started at last, the suspect at first refused to sit in the dock because he didn’t want to be exposed by the media. Only after magistrate Erich Mbiyo warned him that his refusal could lead to arrest, did he enter the dock.
The case has now been postponed for a third time due to the fact that the accused once again replaced his legal team with a new one. They now first need to get up to date with the case. According to AfriForum it is very disappointing that an accused person can simply continue postponing a case without any repercussions, since it also results in the need for his new legal team to get accustomed with the case.
“We are sorely dissappointed with the court’s inaction in assuring that its own orders are adhered to. The failure of the court to ensure that the trial commenced today, has by implication entrenched extreme prejudice to the victim’s case, as a critical witness will be emigrating overseas at the end of this week. The failure to hear the evidence has caused irreperable harm to the victim’s case. Despite government’s continuous pledges – including those on Human Rights Day – to end gender based violence, the postponement once again created the untenable situation wherein the victim must now relive the horrors of the incident, as the case is not being brought to finalisation,” says Andrew Leask, Head Investigator at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.