AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit today during a media conference announced the unit’s involvement in four cases of the most serious child abuse that the unit has ever encountered. In three of the cases the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), despite overwhelming evidence, decided to withdraw the charges against the accused persons in the Brits Magistrate’s Court. In the fourth case the NPA did institute prosecution against certain accused persons but failed to prosecute others.
Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, and his team act on behalf of Michelle de Beer, a carer at Place of Safety, and Adv. Sylna Neuland in these cases. The unit wrote to Adv. Sibongile Mzinyathi, the Director of Public Prosecutions in Pretoria, in this regard to demand that the NPA institutes or reinstitutes prosecution against all parties against whom there is prima facie evidence.
“Although we request in our letter that the Director should launch an urgent investigation into the apparent ineptitude of law enforcement in the Brits jurisdiction with regard to the handling of these cases, the Private Prosecution Unit will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is done for these extremely vulnerable members of our society. These four cases contain evidence of some of the most horrendous sexual offences against children that I have encountered throughout my career. Despite this serious degree of abuse, it seems that law enforcement in Brits is either inept or unwilling to protect these children. These children have not only been forsaken by their parents and caregivers, but also the criminal justice system,” says Adv. Nel.
Below is a brief summary of each case:
Brits CAS 81/12/2018
The NPA (without providing reasons) withdrew this case against the accused who allegedly raped and sexually assaulted his five-year-old stepdaughter. The little girl told the social worker that her stepfather came into her room at night and penetrated her with his fingers, tongue and penis. She also said that it hurt and that there was a lot of blood. Her stepfather also assaulted the girl with a belt and covered her mouth during the attacks if she cried. The child’s mother was, according to evidence, aware of the rape and heard her daughter crying night after night. The mother wrote in a letter to their pastor’s wife that the Lord prevented her from entering her daughter’s room in case the accused became violent. She also admitted in an email that she was aware of the rapes.
Brits CAS 78/12/2020 and Brits CAS 253/12/2020
It can be inferred from evidence in this matter that the six-year-old girl’s grandmother and mother used her as a commodity by allowing her to be raped for payment. The little girl described how offenders put a sponge used for washing dishes in her mouth during the rapes and sexual molestation to prevent her from making any noise. Three of the perpetrators have been charged following the unit’s involvement in the case on 29 June 2021, but two other perpetrators identified by the girl have not been arrested yet. The NPA has also neglected to prosecute the grandmother and other perpetrator.
Brits CAS 250/10/2020
In this case the biological mother of the victim, who was only seven weeks old at the time, admitted to a kindergarten teacher that she put her baby in a freezer if he cried too much. The baby sustained burn wounds, because he had been left in the freezer for such extended periods of time. The J88 of the baby further contains a list of 12 injuries. Both the mother and father of the baby were charged in November 2020, but the prosecutor (again without any reason) has in the meantime decided to withdraw the case.
Brits CAS 03/05/2021
In this case the two-and-a-half-year-old girl was so badly sexually molested that her mother sent her to school with a pad in her undergarments to mask the bleeding. From the girl’s statement the only logical conclusion is that her injuries were inflicted by her father. Yet again the NPA failed to institute prosecution.
“These are horrendous cases of child abuse. In cases where parents or caregivers do not protect children, society demands that law enforcement intervene and prioritise the best interests of the child. Government however only pays lip service to the fight against violence against children. We have failed to see any improvement at the level where it matters most, our courts. Furthermore, it is regrettable that we cannot reveal the names of these accused persons. We understand that the Criminal Procedure Act aims to protect children by prohibiting the revealing of perpetrators’ identities, however, in cases such as these it only serves to protect the paedophiles. Society has a right to know who these perpetrators are,” says Adv. Nel.