/ 5 March 2019

Dros rape accused to go on trial in September

During the court proceedings
During the court proceedings, the accused was hunched over to hide his face. (Gemma Ritchie)

The 22-year-old man accused of raping a seven-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Dros restaurant in Pretoria will stand trial in September.

This the State revealed in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday after the indictment was received and read out in court.

According to State advocate Sanet Jacobson, the trial will be held in the Pretoria high court and is expected to run from September 9 to 20.

The accused, who cannot be named until he has pleaded, has been charged with rape, assault, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and the possession of an illegal substance.

During the court proceedings, the accused was hunched over to hide his face. He signed the indictment and his legal representative, Riaan Du Plessis, told the court that the accused elected to have the trial conducted in Afrikaans.

During a previous court appearance, the court heard that the accused was found fit to stand trial after spending a month in Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital undergoing extensive evaluation.

The accused was evaluated by a team of four experts, including psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist, in line with a court order made in 2018. The evaluation determined the mental capacity of the accused and whether he could be held accountable.

The accused was sent for observation after Du Plessis told the court that there was a need to explore the mental state of his client at the time of the alleged incident.

He said the accused had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013 and had been using drugs since he was 14 years old.

It was put on record that the accused had previously undergone rehabilitation for substance abuse.

“He also tried to commit suicide because of the severe depression of having bipolar,” Du Plessis said at the time.

Jacobson told the court that it was in the interests of justice for the accused to be referred to Weskoppies for observation.

“[His] criminal capacity might be a relevant issue to pursue because a substance was found on him,” Jacobson argued.

Previously, media revealed that the substance found on the accused at the time of his arrest had tested positive for CAT and the charge sheet was changed to reflect this.

The Mail & Guardian has taken a decision not to identify the accused until he has pleaded in court as stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Act.

According to Section 154(2b) of the Criminal Procedure Act: No person shall at any stage before the appearance of an accused in a court upon any charge referred to in Section 153(3) or at any stage after such appearance but before the accused has pleaded to the charge, publish in any manner whatever any information relating to the charge in question. Section 153(3) refers to criminal proceedings related to sexual offences charges.

Once the accused has pleaded to the charges, M&G will reveal his identity in accordance with the law. News 24