‘Picture of innocence’

2012-05-04 00:00

HE is the picture of innocence.

This was whispered by an onlooker as the teenager accused of rape and gouging out his eight-year-old neighbour’s eye, appeared in the Mtunzini Magistrate’s Court yesterday afternoon.

The 15-year-old boy was appearing for a preliminary report relating to a different case — the alleged assault in a school toilet of another eight-year-old girl, for which he faces an attempted murder charge.

Later on the same day he allegedly raped his eight-year-old neighbour in a sugar-cane field, for which he already faces rape and attempted murder charges.

The boy was transported from a KZN hospital for yesterday’s court appearance and was returned there afterwards. He was meant to appear on Tuesday but doctors were apparently reluctant to allow him to leave the hospital on that day.

The boy was accompanied by his mother, who held his hand as she led him through the court building, her eyes downcast.

He looked sombre and confused. Social workers and an assistant to the investigating officer made up the rest of the entourage.

The toilet-assault victim’s family was not present. Speaking to The Witness yesterday, her mother said she was not in court as she was attending a prayer meeting in Gingindlovu to pray against “satanism in the area”.

She said a large group also prayed for her daughter and the other eight-year-old, as well as the suspect.

High-ranking government officials were also present.

The preliminary report was heard in the magistrate’s chambers.

Sources at the court told The Witness that there was pressure from politicians regarding the cases. A court official was heard telling social workers to make sure they “get it right” and pay attention to their paperwork.

“Parliament [and] the politicians want this finalised because it is high profile. They want constant updates because it has raised an outcry in the country,” said the source.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, the accused teen’s grandmother said she could not spoken to or seen him since last week.

“If I want to find out anything I have to phone the police. I am hoping to visit him in hospital on Friday. I am told that when he was taken to hospital he started banging his head against the wall. I am worried.

“This is very painful and now I hear that he is mentally disturbed. When he was three years old he bumped his head badly and was in hospital. His mind was slow after that and schools didn’t want to take him.

“ His mother couldn’t even get him into a school for special needs children,” she said.

She said the boy was sent to live with her because his mother believed that children who grew up in rural areas did not misbehave, like city children do.

The boy’s mother was contacted for comment, but said she had been advised not to speak to the media.

The matter has been transferred to the child justice court and the case was adjourned until May 10 for a bail application.

The teen will appear at the Gingindlovu Periodical Court on May 25 for the rape and attempted murder case.

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