A warrant of arrest was issued for Willem Breytenbach when he did not appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court to face sexual assault charges on Monday.
However, he will not be arrested on sight. With the country currently under a 21-day lockdown, there is an assumption that he may not have been able to get permission to travel to court.
The matter was postponed to June 26.
On the return date, though, he will have to explain why he missed the court date. The court will then decide if there were extenuating circumstances for him not to have been present.
Breytenbach faces six charges of sexual assault and one of indecent assault, following a podcast by writer Deon Wiggett, who first made the allegations against the former teacher and Media24 employee.
Access to the court was restricted to witnesses, accused, lawyers, investigating officers and court officials.
A form had to be filled in to enter the court building. It included a medical checklist of symptoms, such as a cough, and a section on whether the person seeking entrance had been in contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19, or somebody who had recently travelled overseas.
These forms were sorted into piles, and names were called allowing people to go into court.
In line with the lockdown regulations, the cases were postponed one after the other; and most cases involving people already in custody were heard via the audio-visual system that links courts to prisons.
A chaotic mini-scrum formed outside the court as people tried to get a copy of the form from the security guards at the door.
Eventually, one guard had to fetch orange cones to demarcate a one-and-a-half metre distance from the security guards.
Those queuing, however, resisted attempts at maintaining at least a one metre distance between the person in front of and behind them, afraid they would lose their place or not be able to get into the court building.
Translators and lawyers wore face masks and the magistrate rubbed sanitiser over her hands after each case file was handed to her.