AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit on Thursday announced the unit’s involvement in four “horrendous” cases of the most serious child abuse in Brits that the unit has ever encountered.
It has requested an urgent investigation into the “apparent ineptitude” of law enforcement in Brits.
Advocate Gerrie Nel, head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, said in three of the cases the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), despite overwhelming evidence, decided to withdraw the charges against the accused persons in the Brits Magistrates’ Court. In the fourth case the NPA did institute prosecution against certain accused persons but failed to prosecute others.
Nel and his team act on behalf of Michelle de Beer, a carer at a Place of Safety, and Advocate Sylna Neuland in these cases. The unit has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv. Sibongile Mzinyathi, in this regard to demand that the NPA institutes or reinstitutes prosecution against all parties against whom there is prima facie evidence.
“Although we request in our letter that the director should launch an urgent investigation into the apparent ineptitude of law enforcement in the Brits jurisdiction with regard to the handling of these cases, the Private Prosecution Unit will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is done for these extremely vulnerable members of our society. These four cases contain evidence of some of the most horrendous sexual offences against children that I have encountered throughout my career. Despite this serious degree of abuse, it seems that law enforcement in Brits is either inept or unwilling to protect these children. These children have not only been forsaken by their parents and caregivers, but also the criminal justice system,” said Nel.
He said in one of the cases the NPA, without providing reasons, withdrew this case against the accused who allegedly raped and sexually assaulted his five-year-old stepdaughter.
In another case, “it can be inferred from evidence that a six-year-old girl’s grandmother and mother used her as a commodity by allowing her to be raped for payment. Three of the perpetrators have been charged following the unit’s involvement in the case on 29 June 2021, but two other perpetrators identified by the girl have not been arrested yet. The NPA has also neglected to prosecute the grandmother and other perpetrator.”
Another case which has been withdrawn, concerns a mother and her boyfriend who abused a seven-week-old baby. The mother admitted that they put the baby in a freezer when he cried too much. “Both the mother and father of the baby were charged in November 2020, but the prosecutor, again without any reason, has in the meantime decided to withdraw the case,” Nel said.
A fourth case involves the sexual abuse of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl. “From the girl’s statement the only logical conclusion is that her injuries were inflicted by her father. Yet again the NPA failed to institute prosecution.”
“These are horrendous cases of child abuse. In cases where parents or caregivers do not protect children, society demands that law enforcement intervene and prioritise the best interests of the child. Government however only pays lip service to the fight against violence against children. We have failed to see any improvement at the level where it matters most, our courts. Furthermore, it is regrettable that we cannot reveal the names of these accused persons. We understand that the Criminal Procedure Act aims to protect children by prohibiting the revealing of perpetrators’ identities, however, in cases such as these it only serves to protect the paedophiles. Society has a right to know who these perpetrators are,” said Nel.