Dismay on child rape case

2012-06-05 00:00

FAMILY and friends of a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly raped repeatedly by her stepfather over several years and fell pregnant with his child are up in arms over the accused’s unexpected release from custody on a technicality.

The man’s alleged teenage victim — who was allegedly raped from around the age of nine years — gave premature birth to a stillborn baby late last year.

Despite DNA evidence in the docket, which allegedly positively links the accused to the teen’s rape, the accused walked free on Thursday after a regional court withdrew the charges against him.

The Witness has established that the charges were withdrawn because there were certain documents in the police docket still outstanding, including a signature on a doctor’s statement.

In terms of court procedure the case should be transferred to the regional court — which is a trial court — only once the police investigation has been finalised.

In this instance the case was sent to the regional court from an outlying district despite investigations in the docket being incomplete.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said yesterday, however, that in light of the strong DNA evidence, it was uncalled for for the regional court to have summarily released the accused without giving police an opportunity to close the loopholes.

“These were minor matters that could be cleared up very quickly,” said Jeevan.

She said the paperwork had in fact been completed by lunch-time yesterday and the police would ask the court to urgently issue a summons for the accused.

A close friend of the victim’s family said the accused had immediately returned to the area where the rapes were allegedly perpetrated, and said the victim was very traumatised on hearing that the man had been released.

The girl is said to have been severely affected by her ordeal and is under the care of a psychologist.

“She was psyching herself up to give evidence against this man this week, and the next thing she hears he’s free and has booked himself into a B&B … She’s not doing so well,” the friend said yesterday.

He said family and friends were worried that it would take time for the accused to be re-arrested, if at all, especially as he has no fixed abode.

He had been in custody since October last year after being refused bail on the grounds that included a finding that he was a flight risk, he said.

The accused cannot be named because he has not yet pleaded to the rape charge, and to protect the identity of the alleged victim.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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