Not charging minors with rape 'not to do with age'

2012-05-03 22:27
Johannesburg - The State advocate said the decision not to charge the four minors accused of gang raping a 17-year-old mentally impaired Soweto girl had nothing to do with their ages.

"It's not about the age of the perpetrator - that is not the reason why we have not put rape charges against them," said State advocate Carina Coetzee.

"The charges that the State had put against them for the purposes of this application had not included rape. It was other offences under the Sexual Offences Act.

Asked to elaborate, she said: "Let's not run ahead of the investigation.

"We will discuss it as the National Prosecuting Authority and decide what charges we are going to prefer, but in all fairness to them we have put the minimum we have against them."

The four were granted bail by the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

House arrest

"They did get bail of R500 each and they were placed under house arrest. They will change communities... they are just going to move for their own safety."

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said a report on the mental capacity of the girl was still outstanding.

He welcomed the bail ruling, saying: "The incarceration of young offenders should be the last resort. Them getting bail does not affect the case."

The charges included paying a teenager for sexual intercourse, using children for child pornography, and possession, creation and distribution of child pornography, Coetzee said.

The bail applications by youths, one aged 13 and three aged 17, began on Thursday and were held in camera.

Video went viral

The four boys and three men, who matched the descriptions of rapists shown in a cellphone video of the attack, were arrested in Dobsonville, Soweto, on 17 April.

The video went viral on the internet.

The NPA announced at a previous court appearance that three of the four youths would face full prosecution.

"All the accused persons, including the three minors, will appear in court together. They will not be diverted [to a programme for young offenders]," Mhaga said at an earlier court appearance.

Criminally incapable

"In respect of the fourth minor, the 13-year-old, we still have to determine his criminal capacity. Remember, between the ages of seven and 14 they are presumed to be criminally incapable."

The seven faced preliminary charges of rape, sexual assault, engaging the sexual services of a minor for reward, using a minor to create child pornography, committing a sexual act in the presence of a minor, committing a sexual act in the presence of an adult, and creating, possessing and distributing child pornography.

The case against the three men, one aged 18 and two aged 19, has been postponed until 20 June for further investigation. The men did not apply for bail.

The three 17-year-olds would appear in court on 20 June with the adults.

Family covered their faces

The report on the 13-year-old boy's criminal capacity was not available, Coetzee said. The boy's lawyer William Karam said it would take a month to compile.

"The youngster will be coming back on May 17 not for the report, [but] simply to see where we at," said Karam.

"The three youths will join the three adults for the purposes of trial and the assessment of the 13-year-old will proceed. It will take some time and he will appear in court on his own, pending the outcome of the assessment."

Family members of the boys covered their faces when they left court and did not want to speak to the media.

Unlike the previous court appearances, there were no protesters outside the building on Thursday.
- SAPA
Read more on:    npa  |  soweto  |  johannesburg  |  soweto rape video
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