Rape accused permitted to go on holiday
A 22-year-old East London man accused of raping a 12-year old and sexually grooming two other teenagers from a reputable local church had his bail conditions relaxed so he can attend a lavish ten-day family holiday in Mauritius during the December holidays.
The man, who was a teenager at the time of the said incidents, was arrested in December 2016, after the parents of his alleged rape victim saw text messages between him and their daughter revealing that they had had sex. The other two teenage complainants who were 13 and 14 at the time of their alleged sexual grooming, are also part of the same church congregation the accused attends.
The accused was released on bail of R1 500 in 2016 and his passport was confiscated. His trial started on October 21 and 22, 2019 at the East London Regional Court. State Prosecutor, Luvuyo Vena could not attend as he reportedly suffered from chest pains. The previous day of trial was uneventful as the victims were busy with school examinations. The accused, sitting in the dock with his sister, brother, mother and father discussed his application to retain his passport in time for the summer holidays. The victims’ parents contested the application, to the astonishment of the defence lawyer, Henry Van Breda.
“I am astonished, my client has had ample time to flee since 2016, but he has not,” said Van Breda. The accused’s mother was overheard saying, ‘this is just pure jealousy, you are a drama queen’, referring to the mother of the rape victim. Magistrate Mshunqane and the investigating officer had no objections to the request. The accused was granted the right to have his passport back for ten days, an announcement that prompted kisses among his family.
This, while South Africa is within the six-month implementation phase of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s five-point emergency plan to put a halt to gender-based violence, announced in September 2019. The plan prioritises the strengthening of the criminal justice system and enhancing the legal and policy framework. “This is to ensure that justice is served, perpetrators are held to account, survivors do not suffer secondary victimisation, and the law acts as a deterrent. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will clear the backlog of criminal cases for rape and other forms of gender-based violence through the establishment of special courts, hiring additional court staff and clearing the backlog at forensic labs,” said the President.
The father of the rape victim expressed disappointment at the manner in which the state has
handled his daughter’s case. “It’s been three years, and now we wait for another six months for the official start of the trial. The way the justice system is handling this case smells very funny”.
Ramaphosa stated that since the advent of democracy, the country had enacted several laws to tackle gender inequality. “In many respects, however, these measures have fallen short of what is needed to confront the severity of the challenges we face. The State should oppose bail for suspects charged with the rape and murder of women and children and those who are found guilty of such crimes should not be eligible for parole,” declared the President.