Identity of abducted teen to be protected - court

2015-04-21 16:34

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Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday granted an urgent application against all major media groups in South Africa to protect the identity of a Cape Town girl who was kidnapped at birth.

Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann granted an urgent order in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to the girl, who turns 18 next week, prohibiting the publication of any information which reveals or may reveal her identity.

This was pending an application aimed at ensuring that the identities of child offenders, victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings remain protected under the Criminal Procedure Act, even after they turn 18.

Tuesday’s urgent application was not opposed.

The application was brought by the Centre for Child Law, Childline South Africa, the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders and the Media Monitoring Africa Trust.

Raised by kidnapper

The girl was snatched from Groote Schuur Hospital in 1997, when she was only three days old.

She was raised by her kidnapper, but was recently reunited with her biological parents.

She wants the name given to her by the woman accused of kidnapping her out of the public domain.

The 50-year-old woman who allegedly snatched her was released on R5 000 bail and will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court at the end of May.

Her true identity was discovered by chance when her biological sister started at a new school and realised she bore an uncanny resemblance to the teenager, who was in matric.

Her biological father contacted the police and the DNA tests which followed confirmed that the girl was their missing daughter.

Media are ‘flying pests’

The teenager's lawyer, Ann Skelton of the Centre for Child Law, said the order meant that no information could be published which could identify the teenager in any manner, including publishing photos of her, the name of her school, or the suburb where she lived.

She said the court order was very important for the girl, who wanted her identity protected, and it was good that she had the opportunity to do so before she turned 18 next week.

Skelton said in an affidavit that the girl, who is now in matric, feared that she would not be able to study at university next year and that being identified would destroy any chance of her having a normal life.

She did not want to give any interviews to the media and did not wish to testify in the trial of the woman she had regarded as her mother.

She told Skelton she saw the media as "flying pests that do not want to go away".

Read more on:    cape town  |  pretoria  |  crime  |  abductions

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