The following story contains graphic description, which may upset sensitive listeners, including children
The child abuse case against a mother, step-grandfather and nephew has been postponed until the end of next month at the Brits Regional Court. They face preliminary charges of rape after allegedly raping the 23-year-old woman’s toddler since she was 3 years old.
The woman allegedly held her daughter down and put a sponge in her mouth to prevent her from screaming while the other two raped her.
Initially, the charges were withdrawn against the group until civil rights group, AfriForum, stepped in.
Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecuting Unit, Gerrie Nel, says they will continue to monitor the case to ensure it is going to trial as government is paying lip service to women and child abuse.
“Government paid lip service to the priority that they think they afford to matters of women and children. And we see it, because we see it with our clients. Although there are funds being created and talk shops held, on grassroots level, we don’t get those matters in court, or we don’t get the prosecutions going.”
Nel says the current laws do not protect victims.
“In terms of law, you are not allowed to disclose the identity of the accused, you are not allowed to disclose the identity of the victim, and we understand that. But in a matter like this, where we are dealing with children who are 3, 4, 5 years old, we think the law, as it stands, protects the paedophiles, instead of the victims. And I think it should be a time to name and shame these people.”
Nel says they will continue to keep pressure on the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure the cases they are involved in, are prosecuted and going to trial without unnecessary delays.
The child was taken away from her mother and placed in foster care with Michelle de Beer, a carer at a place of safety in Brits. She says the protracted court case re-traumasizes the toddler, who loves wearing her hair in pig-tails.
“We recently had to take her to a psychologist in Lydenburg and then she had to relive all of that. And during that time there, she regressed back to about two years old, when it happened. It’s heartbreaking to see a little girl break down emotionally and physically. She got physically sick.”
She says the children are not given the opportunity to heal because they need to testify.
“I think the saddest part and most devastating part of this process is the fact that these children cannot receive the adequate therapy in order for them to heal. They have to keep the memories there, which, to me, is cruel.”
A foster parent, Pauli Koch, says foster parents who look after these children, are often targeted by the accused who are out on bail.
“It’s really life threatening. I’m just a normal woman protecting kids and woman in crisis. So, now the guys that are really the criminals are harassing us and threatening us.”
The case against the little girl’s mother, step-grandfather and his son, was postponed until the end of October for the state to consult with the witnesses.