Thirteen months after she was raped by Nicholas Ninow, the now eight-year-old victim still has nightmares about him, scared that he will attack her in her room, like he did in the Dros restaurant bathroom.
Taking the stand to testify in aggravation of sentence in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, forensic social worker Captain Karin Botha detailed the trauma of the rape and how it haunts the victim to this day.
Botha told the court that the victim, who cannot be named to protect her identity, could still vividly remember what Ninow looks like and what he wore on the day he raped her in September 2018.
The victim told her psychologist that Ninow "hurt" her, detailing how the rape unfolded.
"I sometimes still see him when I have nightmares," the victim reportedly said. "I see him when I go to bed. I try not to imagine him and what he did to me."
The victim, who was only seven years old when the incident happened, said she didn't speak to her family about the nightmares, because she didn't want to stress them out.
But she was still scared that he would "come into my room like he came into the bathroom".
According to Botha, who compiled a victim impact report, the girl is still extremely anxious and nervous all the time, and this was reflected in her body language.
Since the incident, the victim had become petrified of restaurants and men, Botha testified.
'He needs to learn not to harm people'
"I'm scared of restaurants, they creep me out. Now I know you need to go with someone to the bathroom," the victim told Botha. She also said that she was no longer scared of crocodiles and snakes, now she was scared of men, specifically men in restaurants.
The victim was also scared of her identity being known by the media, which she calls the paparazzi. She was afraid that she would have to be home schooled if the media identified her.
Botha testified that the media coverage had made the young girl feel very vulnerable.
Botha told the court that the victim was suffering from deep-rooted trauma, which may very well continue into adulthood and cause a number of mental issues.
Her maternal grandparents, her mother, and aunt also detailed their suffering and their feelings of helplessness when it came to dealing with the victim's trauma. Her mother told Botha that her biggest fear was that her daughter would blame her for not protecting her and that she would have trust issues.
She also said that Ninow should be sentenced to life in prison.
When the victim was asked how Ninow should be punished, she said: "I mostly want him in jail to learn his lesson. He needs to learn not to harm people."
Following Botha's testimony, both the State and the defence made their closing arguments.
Herman Alberts for Ninow conceded that there could not be a short prison sentence for what Ninow had done, but asked the court to look at his background and circumstances, arguing for a deviation from a life sentence, but still a long sentence so that he could be rehabilitated.
State prosecutor Dorah Ngobeni submitted that there were no mitigating circumstances that could take away the horrific nature of the crime, and thus, Ninow should be sentenced to life in prison.
She also argued that Ninow was not remorseful, but rather regretted his action because of the repercussions he was now facing.
After a week-long trial in September, Judge Mokhine Mosopa found Ninow guilty of rape, possession of an illegal substance and defeating the ends of justice. He was found not guilty of assaulting two Dros employees after he was caught.