/ 30 August 2007

Delft headmaster not guilty on child sex charges

A Western Cape headmaster, charged with three counts of indecently assaulting young girls, was found not guilty in the Parow Sexual Offences Court on Thursday.

Christiaan Abrahams (56), principal of The Hague Primary School in Delft on the Cape Flats, was also acquitted on three charges of possession of child pornography.

On the sex charges, prosecutor Gary Titus had alleged that Abrahams had indecently touched three girls, aged between 10 and 14, over a two-year period. The remaining three charges related to his alleged possession of child pornography, found on his computer.

Abrahams was cleared on the pornography charges after his defence team, Johannesburg senior counsel Johan Engelbrecht and Cape Town attorney Reaz Khan, challenged the validity of a search warrant.

Magistrate Hennie le Roux ruled the warrant — obtained by the police from a Kuils River magistrate to confiscate Abrahams’s office computer — invalid on technical grounds.

The grounds included the fact that the warrant had been mistakenly issued in terms of offences under the Housing Act instead of the Sexual Offences Act. This meant that the invalid search warrant rendered the confiscation of Abrahams’s computer illegal, and that evidence obtained from the computer could not be presented to the court.

Concerning the sexual offences, Abrahams chose not to testify and was given the benefit of the doubt on two of the charges, based on contradictions made by the victims.

On the third sexual-offence charge, Abrahams was alleged to have touched the victim’s vagina while she sat on his lap.

Le Roux said the girl — who had testified via closed-circuit television, clutching a teddy bear — had worn a miniskirt in Abrahams’s office, and had sat on his lap sideways, with her legs over his left leg.

He said Abrahams had placed his left hand high up on the girl’s legs — but on her skirt, not under it — and that the girl had then gotten off his lap and walked away, without saying anything.

Le Roux said there was no proof that Abrahams had touched the third girl indecently, and that Abrahams had to be given the benefit of the doubt on this charge as well. — Sapa