Molested and sexually assaulted boy awaiting justice for 7 years

NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila told The Citizen the case has been postponed 46 times.


There has been no closure or justice for a boy who was sexually assaulted and molested allegedly by a family friend seven years ago.

The family of the now 15-year-old boy has been in emotional turmoil since the assaults, with court proceedings ongoing since 2017.

The matter was heard before the Blue Down Magistrates Court in Cape Town on Thursday, where it was postponed until March next year.

Reason for delays

The boy’s mother is now at her wit’s end because of the numerous postponements, citing various reasons for the delay, from equipment being broken to someone being ill and load shedding.

“Mostly it was due to faulty equipment and then my child being too traumatised to proceed with cross-examination. I have written numerous letters to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and complained directly to the court. Nothing is being done. So for seven years, no healing has taken place.” 

NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila told The Citizen the case had been postponed 46 times, with the majority of the postponements due to the complainant being either tired, restless, crying or emotional.

“It was postponed three times due to the prosecutor being ill and seven times on the unavailability of the magistrate,” he added.

Delays may be inevitable

Speaking to The Citizen, attorney Richard Chemaly said cases can drag on for several year for a variety of reasons, including prosecutors seeking more evidence, availability of witnesses or even a cumbersome caseload on the prosecutor or investigating officer. 

“Often when an investigator retires or otherwise leaves their job, the file must be handed over and the new person in charge might have a different approach. It’s far from ideal to have such a delay in justice. It would also be upsetting if one being an unwinnable case forward,” Chemaly said.

“Fortunately, unlike other justifications, there’s no legal time limit to bring a criminal case to court. Naturally one would want to do it as soon as possible to have the freshest available evidence, but in many cases, and with strained resources, delays are inevitable.”

‘Constant reminders of the hell my son went through’

The ordeal started in March 2017 when the young boy told his mother he’d been touched inappropriately. 

“It became clear that he (the accused) had been touching (the boy) from the age of five, and sexually assaulted him at age seven. We have had to move away from the area because he (the perpetrator) still lives in that area. 

“All malls and shops were a constant reminder of the hell my son went through for two years,” the mother told The Citizen.

The boy has also seen several forensic investigators and had to relive the ordeal multiple times during this process and the court appearances.

“My child had several suicide attempts and was in a psychiatric hospital. He has also been cutting himself. He is failing at school due to all the trauma and constant postponements of court. He is struggling as he is now a teenager and now understands what happened to him.” 

‘The nightmares are severe’

After relocating, the family has to drive 1000s of kilometers for each court appearance, only for the matter to then be postponed.

“I have to remove him and his special-needs brother from school each time we are summonsed to go to Cape Town for court. He lost school days even after I repeatedly requested to not have a trial during school terms and rather during holidays. The cross-examination is also very hard on him, hence the postponement when the questions get too hard and hurt my son immensely.”

The boy sees a psychiatrist every three months and is undergoing treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He is on chronic depression medication and meds to sleep, as the nightmares are severe.”

“I am also on depression meds and a lot of medication to help me sleep. Our lives have completely changed. It is a constant traumatic thing to deal with,” said the mother.

‘Unacceptable’

Gender-based violence activist Reverend June Dolley Major told The Citizen the postponements were an injustice to the boy.

“It is unacceptable that the court case has been running for so many years. It needs to be prioritised, he needs to be prioritised,” said the reverend.

Read more on these topics

court case Gender-based Violence (GBV) Rape

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