School abuse trial u-turn

2017-03-21 13:02
State drops rape charge against second accused.

State drops rape charge against second accused. (File)

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The state appears to have changed its mind about charging a second person in the case against the former counsellor at a local primary school who is being tried for rape and sexual assault.

The charge in which a second person was expected to be added to the charge sheet on Monday was withdrawn and the counsellor was told that the matter will now be added to the other charges he will face in the high court on July 31. 

State prosecutor Rene Padayachee told the magistrate, M. Boikhutso, that although the matter was enrolled yesterday for the purpose of adding a second accused, she had received instructions from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to withdraw the charge concerned and simply transfer the case to the high court. She said the rape charge concerned will be added to the main indictment.

It was also possible that additional charges will be added to the indictment, she said. 

On January 30 the state had raised expectations of an alleged co-perpetrator being added to the case by removing one of the rape charges from the indictment and separating it from the other charges, because it allegedly involved a second accused. 

The charge concerned is one of rape involving a seven-year-old boy. 

While the identity of the alleged “accomplice” was never revealed, public speculation has been rife about who it could be, and a “potential suspect” even hired a lawyer to hold a watching brief in the magistrate’s court in the matter, apparently fearing arrest.

Last time the matter was in court the magistrate was told investigations were under way and the case was not ready for the second accused to be added. It was then postponed until Monday.

Local attorney Wade Paul, for the defence, said yesterday they did not object to the charge being withdrawn and added to the high court indictment. 
However, he expressed his dissatisfaction at the “undue delay” caused by the process, prompting the magistrate to agree that it “appears to have been an unnecessary exercise”.

The former counsellor is currently still in custody as he awaits the outcome of his fourth bail bid to date. 

He has so far failed in two attempts to get bail in the magistrate’s court, and his previous appeal to a high court judge was also turned down.

Last week his advocate lodged another appeal in the high court before Acting Judge Sidwell Mngadi, who is still considering his verdict. 

He reserved judgment in the application, meaning that he will hand down a written decision when he is ready to do so. 

The former counsellor has been in jail since June 2 last year.

According to the indictment served on the defence in January this year, he is expected to face at least four counts of rape and six of sexually assaulting young boys whom he had been counselling.

The indictment states that the 31-year-old accused was employed at the school in question as the school counsellor from 2011 to 2016. 

“The duties of the accused included providing counselling for learners with behavioural and educational difficulties, providing feedback to their parents/guardians and compiling reports,” the document states.

For the purposes of performing his duties the counsellor had used a private office in the school. 

The procedure allegedly followed at the school was for the counsellor to go to classes to fetch pupils who required counselling and take them to his office. 

On various occasions detailed in the indictment he allegedly took boys to his office on a “pretext” of counselling them and thereafter inappropriately touched them sexually or raped them.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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