More than 18 months after charges were laid against a former Bryanston High School sports coach, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has decided to prosecute him.
According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane, the defence decided they would not wait for the decision on whether to prosecute from the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and would instead go to trial.
A trial date would be arranged for 31 August, Mjonondwane said.
The decision comes after months of postponements, pending the DPP’s decision.
However, Women and Men against Child Abuse (WMACA) – an organisation which has been active participants in the case – on Monday berated the justice system for the lengthy delays.
“We have, as an organisation, been outspoken about the bias of the criminal justice system which more often than not favours the perpetrator.
“It is discouraging for victims to engage a system that will continue to require them to remain victims for justice to be served,” it said.
“When it takes 18 months for a decision to prosecute, it becomes increasingly difficult for victims to trust that the system activates to defend their interests.”
The decision has been a relief for the family of the student who laid criminal charges against the coach in January 2019.
“The victim’s family expressed relief at the announcement to set a trial date at the next appearance on the 31st of August. For WMACA this is a positive move in a case that has until now been favourable to the perpetrator,” the organisation said.
It added: “Today’s decision supports the victims. It communicates that the prosecution team agrees there is a case that can be brought against the accused. For the victim, this instills trust in the system”.
Allegations of sexual assault
In 2019, three pupils at the school accused the coach of sexual assault and one 17-year-old victim and her mother opened a criminal case against him which is still to unfold before the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court for a plea.
The coach was dismissed from the school after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement, News24 reported at the time.
However since then, the case has been plagued by delays awaiting an outcome on the DPP’s decision to prosecute, which has had a negative impact on the victim and her family.
“Women and Men against Child Abuse has provided ongoing support to the victim and her family.
“The numerous delays in the case have negatively affected the victim who was in matric at the time the case was opened,” it said.