Cape Town – The families of two Moorreesburg minors allegedly raped by a local pastor say the justice system has failed to protect their children, after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) declined to prosecute the accused.
The DPP found that the minors would not be competent to testify in criminal proceedings and without such, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the pastor.
The children were aged 3 and 4 at the time of the alleged sexual assault and rape.
Family spokesperson Venice Burgins said both families were “broken” and described the DDP’s decision as a sad day for justice.
“The families were shattered and when they received this news, it was like a funeral. It’s just trauma upon trauma for these families. This is a shocking development and response regarding the safety and well-being of children. This is now a free license for paedophiles to continue ravaging our children. I’m deeply saddened.
“Worst of all, the DPP won’t review how they can sharpen their legislation to better protect our children. They ought to learn from matters such as these. The NPA lacks people skills and a sense of humanity,” said Burgins.
One of the mothers had told the Cape Times of their frustration, saying after a year of reporting the suspect – a 49-year-old pastor and owner of a crèche – he had not yet seen the inside of a court despite having been arrested.
“I feel despondent some days but I have to be the voice for my daughter,” she had said.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Burgins’s allegations were unfounded.
“It neglects the facts that we had to seek expert advice to ensure that we get what is best for the minor complainants. The NPA assigned two experienced advocates to look into this matter. They met the mothers of both complainants in July. They met the mother of one of the complainants yesterday. The other mother was unavailable. They drove all the way to Moorreesburg on both occasions to consult with the mothers in a way of ensuring that they were not disadvantaged by transport challenges.
“We have taken this decision to protect the interests of the complainants,” said Ntabazalila.
He said the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions in the Western Cape, advocate Nicolette Bell, had “carefully considered representations, the contents of dockets and various reports submitted to her” which led to the decision.
“During September 2019, an experienced prosecutor consulted with both minor complainants.
“In respect of both complainants, the prosecutor was concerned about the young witnesses’ ability to testify in a court of law. During October 2019, he did not enrol the aforementioned matters,” said Ntabazalila.
Subsequently, further investigation was requested and the matter was referred to the SAPS to complete the investigation where after the children were assessed by a clinical psychologist and detailed psychological reports were obtained.
“The psychologist found that the complainants are unable to take the oath or be admonished to tell the truth as envisaged in the Criminal Procedure Act. In this matter, without the testimonies of the young complainants, there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the accused.
“Bell has emphasised that the NPA remains committed to protect the vulnerable, particularly, women and children who are victims of sexual offences,” said Ntabazalila.