Success: Assailant pleads guilty after Private Prosecution Unit intervenes

Oupa Chembe (52) pleaded guilty today in the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court to a charge of assault on Zander Oosthuizen (19). Oosthuizen was in his school uniform at the time of the incident in September 2021 and is of a slight build compared to Chembe who is a large man of almost two meters in height. The Private Prosecution Unit became involved in the case after it appeared that there were signs of improper interference with the investigation.

The alleged interference includes late-night calls to the complainant requiring him to go to the police station to discuss the case and even “appointments” with the prosecutor to “settle” the case. The case was also adjourned several times in court, which led to further frustration of the administration of justice. However, in July this year, the case was assigned to adv. Jenna Downs, a prosecutor from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), who handled the case well and today argued excellently for aggravation of sentence.

Chembe, who pleaded guilty in terms of section 112(1)(a) of the Criminal Procedure Act, was sentenced to a fine of R3 000 or three months’ imprisonment. He will also have a criminal record from now on.

“We are delighted that the case could finally, after a year of frustration, be concluded in a meaningful way. The fact that we were able to ensure that the law took its course and that there were consequences for criminal conduct is not only a victory for the complainant, but also for justice,” says Andrew Leask, chief investigator at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.

The unsolicited attack took place in the parking area of the Key West Mall in Krugersdorp and the Private Prosecution Unit was able to obtain footage of the incident to strengthen the case against Chembe.

In her ruling, Magistrate Vivian Hawkins pointed out that society expects people to control their tempers and that it is the court’s job to restore the community’s trust in the courts. She also said that the court must accept that the incident caused trauma to the complainant.

“I am very relieved that the case is finally over. It was important to me to see this case through to the end to ensure justice was done. The fact that the accused came to apologise after the proceedings helped me get further closure. I am grateful for the Private Prosecution Unit’s involvement in this case to make sure that it did not simply disappear,” says Oosthuizen.

“This case is a great example of a complainant and his family who, through their sense of responsibility and perseverance, ensured that justice was done. They never hesitated for a moment to take the necessary steps to ensure that the case proceeds, including being willing to testify in court,” says Leask.

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