AfriForum today announced at a media conference that Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of the civil rights organisation’s Private Prosecution Unit, will privately prosecute a man who had raped his three-year-old granddaughter. Private prosecution is instituted because the criminal justice system failed the girl.
The rape and/or sexual assault happened in the home of the victim’s grandparents. The grandfather (the accused) 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.
“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 cell phone evidence. In fact, the South African Police Service (SAPS) closed the docket after a month,” Nel states.
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. Despite these letters, the police obstinately refused to take the statements. 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; the victim has limited access to her mother and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided not to prosecute. The accused has unfettered access to the victim and recently took her on holiday,” says Nel.
“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 concludes.