SCA slams prosecution's 12 year delay

2014-09-26 22:30

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Johannesburg - The Supreme Court of Appeal this week decried prosecutors who delayed an appeal hearing in a rape case for 12 years.

"This court has in many judgments, especially those emanating from where this appeal comes from, bemoaned the fact that practitioners should guard against inordinate delays which have become rampant and systemic," said Judge Rammaka Mathopo in a ruling issued on Thursday.

"It would seem that despite repeated warnings by this court, its advice has not been heeded."

The delayed case in question was an appeal by a former police inspector convicted in the Limpopo High Court of the rape of his two daughters during 1991 and 2001, from the time the girls were aged 6 and 10.

The younger daughter fell pregnant with his child and had an abortion.

In 2002, the man was granted leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence of life imprisonment.

Other cases

However, it was only on 9 September this year that the SCA heard the case.

Mathopo said while the appellant had not suffered injustice due to the delay - as his appeal was dismissed - in other cases this might not be so.

"Such inexplicable delays will make society lose confidence in our courts and innocent persons may unduly or unjustly be incarcerated for a long period of time."

In dismissing the appeal, Mathopo said the "the sentence was undoubtedly one befitting the crimes". He said there seemed no prospect the rapist could be rehabilitated and, furthermore, the daughters' lives had been "left in tatters".

Last month, the SCA criticised the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) for her handling of the order for handing over the so-called Zuma "spy tapes".

At the time the SCA criticised the "generalised, hearsay and almost meaningless terms" used in an opposing affidavit by then acting NDPP Nomcobo Jiba.

It criticised the lack of affidavits from those who had first-hand knowledge of relevant facts. The overall conduct displayed in the matter was "not worthy of the office of the NDPP", the SCA found.

"Its lack of interest in being of assistance to either the high court or this court is baffling."

Read more on:    crime  |  judiciary

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