Private Prosecution Unit condemns criminal justice system that fails children

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit described today’s proceedings in the Brits Magistrate’s Court as deplorable and extremely disappointing. This follows after several complaints of rape against two men, as well as the mother of a young girl, were withdrawn today. The alleged crimes were already committed in 2018 when the little girl was only four years old.

No reasons were provided in court today as to why the case against the persons was withdrawn, but it can be inferred that it is due to the long passage of time between the commission of the alleged crimes and the eventual prosecution. The two men who were accused of the rapes also indicated this morning that they will change legal representatives and would now be defended by Lazarus Attorneys, despite the fact that the case was withdrawn seconds later.

The case was withdrawn before the persons pleaded, which means that the same charges can be brought against them again in the future. There is also no statute of limitations for the crime of rape.

According to Natasha Venter, Adviser at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, today’s proceedings is indicative of the decay of the criminal justice system and the state’s inability to protect the most defenseless members of our society. This case was initially struck off the roll by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) without any reason. After the Private Prosecution Unit made representations, the state again decided to institute prosecution. The pressure exerted by the unit also ensured that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) assigned the case to a senior state attorney. Thereafter, however, the case was still characterised by several delays, among other things because there was no regional magistrate available, that the local prosecutor apparently did not know about the DPP’s decision to assign the case to a state attorney, and that the accused had to confirm funding for their legal representative.

“If the NPA had from the onset had the will to put in the extra effort that cases of violence against children require, the young victim would not have been exposed to this type of secondary trauma. One would think that the state, with all its promises to protect children and women from violence, would be serious about cases like this, but the mere fact that the victim had to wait four years before the trial would have started speaks volumes,” says Venter.

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