PRETORIA, October 2 – The man accused of raping a six-year-old girl at a Dros restaurant on Tuesday told the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court that he does not want to hand over his cellphone to authorities.
The prosecution has requested that Magistrate Marley Mokoena, presiding over the matter, order the accused to hand over his cell-phone, a move which the accused vehemently opposed through his lawyer.
“We request that this court makes an order, telling the accused to hand over his cellphone. If the court makes that order, we will be able to get the phone, which is critical to the ongoing investigations. The grandmother of the accused has indicated that she has the phone,” said the prosecutor Advocate Sanet Jacobson.
However, the accused’s attorney, Riaan du Plessis, told the court that his client does not want to “assist” the State in any way.
“The accused has a right against self-incrimination. I have instructions from the accused that he doesn’t want to help the State in its investigation,” said Du Plessis.
The matter was postponed to November 1 for further investigation.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) appealed to media to report on the matter responsibly.
NPA spokesperson Advocate Luvuyo Mfaku said: “There were media houses which went to great lengths, interviewing witnesses, going to the crime scene – that is prohibited. You cannot publish the particulars of the charge before an accused person has pleaded to the charge. We appeal to the media that they must be cautious. They have the right to report but they must do so responsibly.
“When an accused person has not appeared in court, you cannot publish his name and identity. Once the accused person has appeared in an open court, underline open court, and the accused person is older than the age of 18 then the identity and the name of that accused person can be published.”
He said there are specific circumstances when the NPA feels publishing the particulars of an accused may jeopardize a case, and in those instances, an application is made to the court to bar the publication of an accused’s name – even after an appearance.
“If the identification of the person will compromise the integrity of the investigation, or will endanger the life of the accused person, or will result in the revelation of the complainant – then we have a responsibility as the NPA to make an application in court to the effect that the particulars must not be published,” said Mfaku.
“In the instant case, after he had appeared, the media ran with the story and they published his identity. We would have loved for the media to be very circumspect on the publication because you were not even aware whether the identity of the accused is in question. We always say allow the person to appear [in court] more especially in sexual offences as well as cases of extortion.”
The accused faces charges of rape, possession of drugs, assault with intent to do bodily harm and intimidation. It is alleged that he followed the little girl from the restaurant’s play area to the toilets where he raped her. The girl’s mother allegedly caught him in the act after she went looking for her child.
– African News Agency (ANA)