/ 26 September 2018

Dros confirms ‘incident’ following rape of seven-year-old at restaurant

Childhood abuse victims are being encouraged to tell their stories to protect others.
The first mention of the incident was in a Facebook post where a witness said the suspect had allegedly been stalking the young girl who was in the play area. (Madelene Cronje/M&G)

The Dros franchise group, where a seven-year-old girl was raped on Saturday, has released a statement confirming that an “incident took place” at one of its restaurants in Silverton, Pretoria.

In the statement, the group says it has been in contact with the parents of the child to “convey our sympathy and offer our assistance in any form that would (or could) reasonably be required in a matter of this nature.”

Dros says that due to the nature of the incident and police investigations being underway, it “is not in a position to comment and/or disclose further information.”

The seven-year-old was reportedly raped in the men’s toilets at the Silverton restaurant by a 20-year-old man.

The first mention of the incident was in a Facebook post where a witness said the suspect had allegedly been stalking the young girl who was in the play area. He is reported to have followed her to the toilet before raping her.

The Citizen reported on Tuesday that child’s mother went to the women’s bathroom to find her daughter but could not locate her. It is then that she heard sounds coming from the men’s toilet.

A witness told the newspaper that the door to the men’s toilets appeared to be blocked. Unable to open it, the child’s mother caused a commotion to force the occupants to open the door. It was then the suspect opened the door naked. The child was also allegedly naked and bleeding from the groin.

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The witness further added that customers began assaulting the suspect when they got wind of what had happened. A manager had to lock him in the bathroom until the police arrived.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane told Radio 702 on Tuesday that the suspect had been “provisionally charged with rape, possession of drugs, assault with intent to do bodily harm and intimidation.”

“I am saying provisionally because the investigations are still ongoing so the state will determine at a later stage exactly which charges should be referred against the accused person,” Mjonondwane said.

The man appeared briefly at the Pretoria magistrate’s court on Tuesday. The case has been postponed until October 2 to allow for further investigations. The suspect has been remanded in custody.

“We’re not yet informed as the NPA if he has any intention of bringing a bail application. We view rape of minors as a very serious offence so as the NPA where we have grounds to argue against bail we will do that.”

Mjonondwane says the NPA will ensure that the child is taken care of and she receives the necessary support.

“The child is traumatised and we know that rape is a gruesome crime and it becomes worse when it happens to a minor so for now as the NPA, it is our duty to ensure that we take care of this child’s well-being, seeing as she’ll be one of the key witnesses in the state’s case.”

Police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that the suspect appeared in court and was remanded in custody. He said the police cannot say much about this case because it involves a minor and is therefore sensitive.

Listen to the 702 podcast to hear a witness’s account of what happened: