Pre-teen relives rape while justice fumbles

2011-06-25 16:17

More than a year has gone by since 11-year-old Mabore Phoshoko* was raped by her ­uncle. Her distraught family has struggled to help the young girl cope with epileptic seizures, which have worsened since the ­incident.

“Her seizures have become more frequent and, as a result, she is constantly in hospital,” says her grandmother, Nthabiseng Phoshoko*.

“Her face has completely changed because she always ­returns with different injuries from hospital from banging her head against something. She has become very fearful, but also more aggressive.

She trusts no one,” explains Nthabiseng.

The sight of a police van ­reduces her to a quivering wreck. And now she will have to relive her rape ordeal because police have “lost” her case docket.

Nthabiseng heard the shocking news in March. After months of court appearances and postponements, she had hoped that justice would finally prevail for her granddaughter.

“When we got to court on that day, we were told that we should wait in the public gallery until our case was called.”

Minutes turned into hours. But unbeknown to Nthabiseng, the accused was getting ready to walk out of the court a free man.

The docket had gone missing and the court decided to let him go.

“What made the situation worse was that the court officials did not even bother to inform us that they decided to let Michael* go,” said Nthabiseng.

“Instead they just left us sitting there in the gallery where they told us to wait. When I went to ask the court official why they had not called us yet, he just looked at me and asked me which case I was talking about.

“When I ­reminded him, he just said: Oh, he (Michael) was released because the docket was missing.”

Devastated, Nthabiseng decided to go home after being told the police would have to take a statement from her granddaughter again.

“I asked them how it was ­possible for a docket to go missing if there had been no break-in at the police station because that would have been the only reasonable ­explanation for the missing document,” said Nthabiseng.

Determined not to give up, she decided the only way to ensure that the case would proceed was to convince her granddaughter to give another statement.

“That was the worst for me since it meant she had to go through that experience again, which was not good since no one ever bothered to offer the child any support. I am the only one who has been counselling her and telling her she should not blame herself for what happened,” Nthabiseng said tearfully.

“The worst thing about this situation is that the information, including medical reports, from the hospital has also gone missing.

“I am really tired of this and what hurts me the most is that the person who raped my grandchild is walking free while I am left to deal with the trauma that the child has to go through.”

“I won’t let this matter go until it is solved.

“If justice is done, then maybe Mabore will stop saying that she wished that the man who did this to her would be killed in jail so that he can feel the hurt he caused her,” Nthabiseng said.

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the child

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