Driving up Sophie de Bruyn Street yesterday, I immediately started scouting for one of the three guys that usually make a parking plan for me.
But instead, for the first time, I found a perfectly open and legal parking spot, right in front of the entrance to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court. I had woken up earlier than usual to make sure I got a front-row seat in the anticipated bail application of the guy now dubbed the “Dros rapist”.
That’s because the last time Nicholas Ninow appeared, Francis Baard Street, adjacent to the court’s entrance, was blocked by traffic police, with broadcasting vans parked outside the court and reporters scattered in the street, doing their live crossings.
I had to be prepared for the hectic morning ahead.
“Why are the EFF here with their truck? Is this for the Dros rape case?” asked an attorney I know who I had found outside the court building. “That’s because everyone is politicising this thing.
Each party is going to come here and want to get interviewed.
“But I have covered so many child rape cases in this same courtroom, and none of these people was here to show support,” I said in reply. Last year, a 56-year-old man who had repeatedly raped his neighbour’s seven-year-old daughter in Mamelodi was finally sentenced.
In the two years of the trial, this man continued to taunt the little girl while he was out on bail and his family would call her names when she walked by.
That did not trend. There were no media statements from organisations and political parties, condemning the act.
Even the magistrate was not so lenient to the media as I don’t even have a picture of the man.
Usual procedures applied in this case. I bet South Africa hasn’t read about the tragic death of Lethabo Ngobeni, who was raped and killed by her mother’s drunken friend.
Her mother had left her alone to go drinking the entire weekend with the alleged killer, but left him at the end of the weekend to go and sleep at another man’s house.
When Lethabo went knocking at the drinking pal’s door on the Monday morning, looking for her mother before heading to school, the man snatched her, had his way with her the entire day, and killed her.
He was caught. And went to court. But the BBC did not send their correspondents to cover the case as they did with the “Dros rapist”. Nor did it feature on the front page of Rapport.
I often try to dissect why this particular case even grabbed so much attention.
Writing the gory details of the story, I knew it would get a reaction, but did not know it would trend for the entire week.
It was even heard in court that the DNA tests were already concluded, a process that can take months for most.
“I think it’s because it happened in a public place, in broad daylight, and because he is white,” I responded to my lawyer friend as more EFF members started to trickle in. “I mean, the fact that a white guy did it clearly shocked everyone.
“Even the white people. But it is unfair. Why can’t other child rape victims get the same support?
“Rape has no race and one case shouldn’t be more important than the other.”