Advocate: ‘Nothing special about this matter’

2019-10-16 06:01
During the suspect’s first court appearance, members of the ANC Women’s League gathered outside the court to show support for the victim. photo: andile sithole

During the suspect’s first court appearance, members of the ANC Women’s League gathered outside the court to show support for the victim. photo: andile sithole

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THE LAWYER representing the 31-year-old man accused of raping an ANC volunteer at the mayor’s house in Greytown last month told the court that there was nothing “special about the case”.

Advocate Louis Barnard presented his arguments at the Greytown Magistrate’s Court on September 10 in a bid to ask the court to release his client on bail. The accused told the court that when the trial hearing starts, he intends to plead not guilty on the rape charge.

Barnard was also not impressed with the evidence presented in court by the investigating officer, Captain Keshni Schoeman.

In her argument, Schoeman had told the court that the police had a strong case. She said the matter before the court was a sensitive one that has caused public outcry.

The court heard that the victim was raped in the presence of another women (a witness) who was at the house when the alleged incident occurred.

Barnard said: “If he [the suspect] isn’t a flight risk, why must he be kept in police custody? The accused is prepared to move his employment to Mabomvini clinic.

“There’s nothing exceptional in this case. The protesters didn’t show any threat [when they were protesting outside court]. This is not an exceptional matter. It’s not like he [suspect] threw her [victim] out of the window. There is nothing special about this matter.”

The state opposed the defence, saying: “It is unfortunate that this case occurred at a time when the country is going through a volatile situation. The violence against women and children is on the increase and the public has vested their trust in the courts. Decisions taken by the court will give courage to other [rape] victims.”

The state also argued that granting the accused bail will have additional psychological impact on the victim “because she stays in the same area where the accused is working”.

In the arguments presented by the state, the victim’s sexual orientation came into the spotlight: “When Captain Schoeman was presenting her evidence, we heard that the victim is a lesbian, but the accused raped her,” the state said. The prosecutor told the court that the suspect was aware that the victim was a lesbian when he raped her. The state is going to use this information in the case to prove that sexual intercourse wasn’t consensual.

The court prosecutor also said the public outcry was an indication of the community’s displeasure, adding that “public peace has been undermined.”

The matter was adjourned until October 18 for the ruling on the bail application.

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