Rape-accused former PMB school counsellor granted R10 000 bail

2017-03-29 06:03

THE former guidance counsellor at a Pietermaritzburg primary school accused of raping and sexually assaulting numerous pupils was granted R10 000 bail on Monday­.

This was his fourth bid to get bail.

He made two attempts in the magistrate’s court, and a previous appeal to a high court judge was also turned down.

His advocate Brad Osborn lodged another appeal last month before Acting Judge Sidwell Mngadi, who reserved judgment at the time.

The counsellor faces stringent bail conditions in that he cannot coach, train, teach or counsel anyone under the age of 18, and he is also not allowed to access any facility where under 18s are coached or trained.

In his judgment handed down yesterday­, Mngadi said the state’s affidavit­ handed in during the first bail application was “written in a somewhat cryptic manner” and not clarified by oral evidence.

Mngadi criticised the investigating team, warning that a bail proceeding was a very important stage in criminal proceedings and could not be approached in a “lax manner”.

He said that during previous bail applications, the state failed to prove they had a strong case against the accused­ as there was no DNA evidence.

“These allegations are based on the evidence of single child witnesses. It is required that such evidence, to [acquire] a conviction, must be approached with extreme caution.”

He said the appeal court judge, in the counsellor’s first bail attempt, overlooked the fact that the submissions by the public prosecutor were not supported by evidence.

He said in his view there was no evidence that the counsellor attempted to destroy evidence or interfere with state witnesses.

“The fact that the complainants were children who are now in the custody of their parents and the [counsellor] had been dismissed from his employment with the school indicates the unlikelihood of any interference,” said Mngadi.

At the counsellor’s second bid for bail, the magistrate refused saying it was necessary he remain in custody so that more victims would be prepared to come forward.

“Potential complainants, if any, had more than six months to come forward while the [counsellor] was in custody.

“Such a ground cannot, in my view, be relied upon to refuse bail,” he said.

Mngadi warned the court that an accused cannot be held in custody pending his trial as a form of “anticipatory punishment”.

He said there were exceptional circumstances that would permit the counsellor’s bail.

The former counsellor has been in jail since June 2, 2016.

According to the indictment served on the defence in January, he is expected­ to face at least four counts of rape and six of sexually assaulting young boys whom he had been counselling.

The indictment states that the 31-year-old accused was employed as the school in questions counsellor from 2011 to 2016.

For the purposes of performing his duties the counsellor had used a private office in the school.

The procedure allegedly followed at the school was for the counsellor to go to classes to fetch pupils who required counselling and take them to his office.

On various occasions detailed in the indictment he allegedly took boys to his office on the “pretext” of counselling­ them and thereafter inappropriately­ touched or raped them.

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