While the public is outraged that the man dubbed the “Dros rapist” would be sent to a mental hospital for psychiatric evaluation, this is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card for Nicholas Ninow, as it could very well mean spending the rest of his life in the psychiatric facility.
The man accused of raping a seven-year-old child at the Silverton Dros was yesterday referred to the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, where four experts will assess his mental state since he was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
The 20-year-old Ninow walked into the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court with a hoodie covering his face.
Removing his hoodie revealed that he had grown a beard, and constantly took deep breaths during the court proceedings.
Political parties and organisations came in numbers for the accused’s third appearance, including staff members of the Silverton Dros where the incident happened, to show support for the victim.
The magistrate agreed to send the accused to Weskoppies after it was proposed by state prosecutor Sanet Jacobson and defence lawyer Riaan Du Plessis that he undergo psychiatric evaluation.
Du Plessis said Ninow was diagnosed with bipolar disorder five years ago, which led to numerous suicide attempts.
The accused has a history of drug addiction dating back to his teenage years. He has also spent time in a rehabilitation centre, Du Plessis said.
“There are incidents of self-harm. There have been suicide attempts from the accused because of severe depression caused by mood swings, which are caused by the bipolar disorder,” said Du Plessis.
“A clinical psychologist will dig deeper into the psyche of the accused to get a better picture, so that the panel can make a better decision on the state of mind of the accused at the stage of this incident.”
If he is found mentally unfit, he would not stand trial as he cannot be held liable for his actions, family lawyer Ulrich Roux told The Citizen.
That would mean he has a lack of criminal capacity, meaning he was not aware of his actions when the alleged crime happened.
“Then he cannot be held liable for his actions and he will be detained in a state psychiatric facility for the rest of his life. So it is not a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Roux.
Cellphone video footage showing a naked Niniow after he was caught would be considered by the psychologists, Roux said.
“Whatever is said on a cellphone video could be taken into consideration, but won’t be the beginning or end of everything.”