Almost two years after charges were laid, the trial against a former Bryanston High School sports coach got underway, with him pleading not guilty to all charges.
According to non-profit child protection organisation, Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA), who attended the trial in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Monday, the coach pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of rape, sexual assault, and common assault.
The organisation has been following the case throughout its many postponements.
News24 reported in August last year that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided to prosecute the former sports coach.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane then said the defence decided they would not wait for the decision from the NDPP on whether it would prosecute and decided to go on trial.
WMACA advocacy manager Ngaa Murombedzi told News24 that the first complainant took the witness stand and detailed the timeline, dating back to 2013, of her alleged abuse.
“What we are picking up [from the victim’s testimony] is an element of grooming. She has maintained that she saw the accused as a father figure and we are also picking up there was no language she could use to comprehend what was happening,” she said.
She added the victim also told the court how she trusted the accused and did not understand what he was doing to her.
“But also, what she has said, as she developed, from 2013, it was initially the lack of language to talk about what was happening to her, but then that moved from understanding, emotionally, that this (alleged sexual abuse) was wrong,” Murombedzi said.
She said the court also heard how the accused allegedly abused his power.
“We don’t necessarily question students in the presence of teachers [and] assume there is something untoward that is happening.”
Murombedzi said: “Access to the victim, how would that happen? He would [allegedly] use his power as a sports director, and call her out of classes and have access to her to be able to violate and rape her.
“As the time progressed to round about 2017, she has said that he was gaining access to her via his power and taking her out of classes.”
In 2019, three pupils at the school accused the coach of sexual assault and one 17-year-old victim and her mother opened a criminal case against him.
The coach was dismissed from the school after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement, News24 reported at the time.