SCA dismisses justice department appeal

2014-09-24 10:56

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Johannesburg - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed a justice department appeal on Tuesday about a high court order which found the department liable for the alleged negligent conduct of a prosecutor during a bail application.

The Western Cape High Court had found the department liable after Ockert Johannes Steyn, charged with raping his 12-year-old daughter four times between 2006 and 2007, appeared in the Ladismith Magistrate's Court.

Steyn applied for bail, which was granted, and on 15 June 2007, he was released from custody.

On 9 July 2007, in Oudtshoorn, Steyn abducted the respondent's 5-year-old daughter from her home and raped her twice.

The girl's mother maintained that the combined negligent conduct of police and the prosecutor caused Steyn to be released from custody, thereby allowing him the opportunity to abduct and rape her daughter.

The high court declared the department and the minister of safety and security liable, jointly and severally, for payment of such damages as the mother had suffered personally, and in her capacity as mother and guardian of her daughter.

The department argued before the SCA that the high court erred in finding the prosecutor had negligently failed to execute his duties.

The department further argued the mother had failed to prove she had suffered psychiatric injury or emotional shock entitling her to claim damages in her personal capacity.

The SCA agreed with the finding of the high court that the prosecutor failed to exercise due care and take reasonable precautions to avoid or minimise injury to the mother and her daughter.

The prosecutor's negligent failure to place all relevant information before the magistrate resulted in Steyn being released from custody, thereby allowing him the opportunity to abduct and rape the woman's daughter.

The SCA held further that the mother had established the existence of a psychological injury or emotional shock, regarding the merits of her claim in her personal capacity.


Read more on:    sca  |  cape town

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