Magistrate recuses himself after being accused of 'playing race card' in teacher abuse case

2017-03-07 11:18
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Upington - The magistrate hearing the case against a female teacher facing sex charges involving a minor girl had to recuse himself on Monday after bringing up her race during proceedings, Netwerk24 reported.

The woman, 28, was arrested on Friday and faces charges of rape, molestation, indecent sexual assault and serious assault of a minor, said police spokesperson Captain Jacques September.

- Read more: Female teacher arrested for sexually assaulting girl

She appeared in court dressed in a purple T-shirt and navy blue trousers just after 12:00 on Monday. 

She stared straight ahead while her lawyer, Chris Wessels, brought an urgent application for bail. 

The State opposed the application and asked that the case be postponed for seven days for further investigation. It also wanted a warrant to seize additional goods belonging to the accused.

Wessels said the alleged incidents had happened in 2014 and 2015.

He contended that the police had obtained a warrant on Friday last week and that the house of the accused had already been searched and all relevant items confiscated.

Wessels said the woman would be staying with her mother for the duration of the case.

Race card

Chief Magistrate Steven Hinana agreed with Wessels that an extra seven days would be unnecessary, but contended that the accused had to be treated in the same way as any other bail applicant. 

Hinana said he wouldn't allow "that, because she is white, she will get preferential treatment to bring an urgent application". 

In reply, Wessels said his practice had never been guilty of doing that, and all clients were treated equally. 

He also expressed his displeasure at Hinana's comment, saying it was regrettable that the magistrate had played the "race card" in court.

Hinana then recused himself and the case was postponed to Tuesday, when a new magistrate would preside over the matter.

The woman was remanded and will appear in court again on Tuesday.

The teacher's family, who had travelled from the Western Cape to support her, was in court during proceedings, as were the parents of the minor.

Read more on:    kimberley  |  child abuse
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