The case of a man believed to be a prominent businessman, who stands accused of raping his grandchild, was heard in the Pretoria Magistrate Court today, where it was postponed to June 13.
Head of lobby group AfriForum’s private prosecutions unit, advocate Gerrie Nel, is prosecuting the alleged rapist after the mother of the child contacted AfriForum last year asking for the help of their legal team.
The accused has been denied access to the child, who he stands accused of having raped following a successful application by Nel to bar the alleged perpetrator from contact with the victim and witnesses.
The court also ruled that the case may not be filmed.
The identity of the alleged rapist is not yet known. “The Dros rapist’s name and identity are known in the media. Why is the accused being treated differently because he has money and status?” AfriForum’s official Twitter account asked in Afrikaans.
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At a press conference in October 2018, AfriForum first announced that Nel would be privately prosecuting a man accused of raping his three-year-old granddaughter.
The organisation accuses the criminal justice system of failing the victim.
According to Nel, the rape happened “in the home of the victim’s grandparents”.
The advocate further alleged that the grandfather is “a successful and respected businessman in the financial sector”.
“The victim reported the rape and assault to her mother and father, and a psychologist confirmed the sexual offences in a psycho-legal assessment. The victim also identified her grandfather as the perpetrator to her teacher,” Nel continued.
“When the applicant first approached our office and told us the facts, we were astonished that the police had failed to take a statement from the important independent witnesses: that is the school teacher and the psychologist.
“We were also astonished that detectives had not taken steps to secure cellphone evidence. In fact, the South African Police Service (SAPS) closed the docket after a month.”
According to Nel, AfriForum “wrote letters imploring the SAPS to take the statements. The organisation also reported the conduct of the policeman to his commanders and police management”.
Nel alleges that “despite these letters, the police obstinately refused to take the statements” and that “AfriForum’s private prosecution unit procured the versions of the witnesses itself”.
“Despite the evidence that exists against the accused, the legal system failed the victim. It is now two years later [and] the victim has limited access to her mother. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) [has] decided not to prosecute.
“The NPA took a decision without ensuring that proper investigations had been concluded. The prosecutors I know will prosecute if they consult with these two witnesses.
“If this matter received the attention it deserves, prosecuting the accused would have been no problem whatsoever.”
Nel, who became famous as the public prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius trial, left the NPA to join AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit in January 2017.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman and Nica Schreuder)