Twist in school abuse trial

THE rape and sexual assault trial of a former primary school counsellor took another startling turn this week with a revelation that the prosecution intends to charge at least one other person in the case.

This is in connection with one of the counsellor’s alleged crimes of rape.

The counsellor alone was this week indicted to stand trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on a total of 10 counts of rape and sexual assault, between 31 July and 25 August this year.

The indictment names eight boys aged 13, 10, 11, nine and five, who were allegedly molested by the counsellor.

After serving the indictment on the defence, prosecutor Rene Padayachee told the court the State has separated one count from the original charge sheet as they intend to add a co-accused in that matter.

“The state applies for a separation of trials in respect of this count, which is not included in the indictment. I ask for that matter to be postponed to 20 February for the co-accused to be added,” said Padaychee.

She stressed that the charge itself was “not a new one” but that the state required a separation of trials because another accused is going to be added in connection with that particular count.

In reply to questions by magistrate M. Boikhutso, the counsellor’s attorney, Wade Paul of Siva Chetty Attorneys, said he had not yet seen the “new charge sheet”. However, he did have a discussion with state advocate Frank van Heerden of the Director of Public Prosecutions office about it.

The charge sheet reflects the charge as being one of rape of a seven-year-old boy allegedly committed between 2015 and 2016.

Only the school counsellor’s name appears on the charge sheet at this stage.

The now clean-shaven counsellor sat quietly in the dock among many other accused for several hours until his case was called.

He and his attorney were both served with copies of the state’s indictment setting down his trial in the high court in July.

According to the indictment, the counsellor will face 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 in the capacity of 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. It states his alleged victims were pupils at the primary school being counselled for “various behavioural and educational difficulties”.

The procedure allegedly followed at the school would be for the counsellor to go to classes to fetch the pupils for 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 then inappropriately touched them sexually or raped them.

The counsellor has been in custody since his arrest in June last year. He has tried and failed on three occasions so far to be released on bail. His attorney confirmed that he is still intent on lodging an appeal to the high court against the most recent refusal by the magistrate to grant him bail last November. The defence had to first await a transcript of the bail proceedings before they can appeal. One of the grounds raised by the defence at the last bail hearing was the alleged delays in the investigation and continual adding of charges by the prosecution.

The counsellor alone was yesterday indicted to stand trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on a total of 10 counts of rape and sexual assault, between 31 July and 25 August this year. The indictment names eight boys aged 13, 10, 11, nine and five, who were allegedly molested by the counsellor

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