AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit has branded the developments in the Brits Magistrate’s Court yesterday in one of the child abuse cases in which the unit is currently involved as deplorable. This follows after the case against two men, as well as the mother of a young girl was, during the pretrial proceedings, only placed on the roll for 29 August 2022. The court today accepted that the reason for this long lapse of time before the prosecution of the accused for the alleged crimes which were already committed in 2018 against a child of four years old could finally begin, is to allow the accused the opportunity to obtain funding to pay their legal representative.
According to Natasha Venter, Advisor at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, the Unit is shocked about the announcement that funding had not been arranged, and deemed it a mere delaying tactic.
“It is a disgrace that this child is being exposed to so much secondary trauma, simply because the rights of the accused are being placed above those of the victim. The victim was four years old in 2018 and almost four years have gone by since the alleged incidents took place. This case has already been postponed time and again to protect the rights of the accused persons, but no regard is apparently being given to the effect that it has on the young victim who will now have to dig up memories of what allegedly happened to her four years ago. It does not only prevent the victim from gaining a measure of closure – it also flies in the face of justice,” says Venter.
According to Venter the Private Prosecution Unit wants to compliment the NPA on the appointment of a state advocate, Salomé Scheepers, to handle the prosecution, and it is a fact that unreasonable delays such as this also creates unnecessary extra work for hardworking prosecutors. The court also placed it on record yesterday that there is no permanent regional court magistrate in Brits who can hear this matter, because the previous regional magistrate had been transferred to Ga-Rankuwa. This has contributed to the long lapse of time before the trial can start, and it points to the utterances of Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice, in the media that cases of violence against women and children would be prioritised, as mere lip service.
The case has been place on the roll for trial from 29 to 30 August, as well as 7 to 9 September 2022. The accused and their legal representative must be in court on 1 June 2022 to confirm to the court whether funding has been arranged.