The Mitchells Plain Sexual Offences Court has sentenced a traditional healer and relative to life imprisonment after he sexually assaulted and raped a minor he was supposed to heal. The State does not name the accused as he is related to the victim and wants to avoid indirectly naming the victim. The court heard that on 04 July 2021, the victim’s family invited the accused into their home as a traditional healer and a relative after suspecting something was wrong with her. In ‘his quest to heal her’, he would wake her up at night while the rest of the family was asleep, take her to a separate room, lock the room and instruct her to undress. He would then insert his fingers into a guava juice and then into her private parts. He would then insert his penis into her private parts. He would also lick her private parts. The victim escaped and reported her ordeal to her mother in the other room. The accused was arrested and charged with two counts of rape and sexual assault.

As the victim was a minor, an extreme introvert who was also traumatised by her nightmare, the prosecutor Chantal Adams, brought in the services of the Court Preparation Officer, Carmenita van Rooy, which proved to be a critical turning point in the case. Adams noted during her consultations with the victim, that she was deeply affected by the incident. After receiving court preparation support, the victim gave her full cooperation and participated in all the sessions. On 26 June 2023, she testified on camera with the assistance of the Court Intermediary, Abigail Long and she was confident and testified very well.
Emphasising the turning point, Adams said the victim was ready, mature, and confident. Although she was very nervous at first, the team at Mitchells Plain Regional Court built her confidence and helped her keep her composure throughout her testimony. She concluded her testimony the same day without any breakdowns. This was the result of the way she was prepared for the trial.

The quality of her evidence, notwithstanding her tender age, was of a high quality. She impressed the court with her confidence and demeanour. She did not shy away from answering questions no matter what their nature. As a result of court preparation support helping her to get out of her shell, the State was able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and the accused was convicted on all counts preferred against him. During arguments in aggravation of sentence, Adams emphasised the seriousness of the offences committed by the accused and requested the court not to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment. She further argued that the accused displayed no remorse for his actions, preyed on a vulnerable innocent child and needed to be stopped in his tracks.

The court, after considering the two years the accused spent in custody since his arrest, and successful opposition to his bail, found that deviation from the minimum sentence is appropriate and sentenced the accused to life imprisonment for the two counts of rape and five years imprisonment for sexual assault. The court ordered the sexual assault sentence to run concurrently with the life sentence imposed for the two rape counts. The court ordered the names of the accused to be entered into the National Register for Sex Offenders, he is unsuitable to work with children and that his name be entered into the National Child Protection Register.

The Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Nicolette Bell, lauded the collaboration of the investigation, prosecution, and court preparation services for the vital role each played in ensuring the victim got justice. “Our investigators who are well trained, particularly in these types of cases go beyond the call of duty as they must tread carefully in dealing with a minor victim of a sexual offence. That the perpetrator is a family member tends to make the case more complicated. Prosecutors in our sexual offences’ courts are also very well trained and know how to handle cases of this nature. Our unsung heroes in these cases are court preparation officers who hardly get mentioned when we secure successful prosecutions and sentences in cases like this one. They play a very crucial role, as in this case, in empowering the victims, and the witnesses and helping them to give evidence that will secure a successful prosecution, and sentence, and help them claim their dignity back, she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *