Judge lets rapist off the hook

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- In a second case of its kind within a week, a South African judge has questioned whether a child rape victim knows what it means to speak the truth under oath.
The Pretoria High Court was on Thursday scheduled to sentence a Nelspruit man convicted of raping a 14-year-old.
The matter had been referred to the high court for sentencing.
However, Judge G.
Webster postponed the case against David Sithole to 14 May to hear evidence on whether the proper procedures were followed when the girl undertook to give evidence against Sithole in the Nelspruit Regional Court.
The defence was about to argue in mitigation of sentence after informing the judge that she did not dispute her client's conviction on the rape charge.
However, Judge Webster referred defence advocate Mercedes Mokadikoa to the relevant law relating to a minor taking the oath.
He questioned whether the magistrate had made sure the girl knew what it meant to speak the truth under oath and whether she had been sworn in correctly.
The judge further questioned whether a 14-year-old knew the meaning of taking the oath.
He pointed out that no identity parade was held and that the accused was a stranger to the girl at the time of the alleged rape.
The judge also commented that she did not shout for help at the time and was the only witness.
Judge Webster last week postponed giving judgement on another rape case to 11 May to hear evidence whether a 13-year- old girl who accused her father of raping her was indeed sworn in and warned properly to tell the truth.
The defence claimed during that case that the girl lied when she accused her father in court of raping her.
Although medical reports confirmed she was raped, someone else could have committed it, the court heard.
Meanwhile, Judge Webster on Thursday set aside the rape conviction of a Piet Retief man found guilty of raping a 15-year old family member.
The judge said he was not convinced of the man's guilt.

03 may 2001 13:46:00

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