Nicholas Ninow’s mental illness no excuse for rape, say many

Outrage has followed the emphasis on mental illness at the Dros rape accused's third bail hearing on Thursday.

It became clear this morning, at Dros rape accused Nicholas Ninow’s third court appearance, that his mental health is set to feature prominently in his trial, with his defence lawyers detailing his mental health record which they say includes a diagnosis for bipolar disorder, drug abuse, and several suicide attempts and with the judge ruling that he will, for now, be housed at mental health facility Weskoppies.

Since the postponement of his case until November 28, many have expressed the view that mental health should not be a mitigating factor when it comes to rape.

According to IOL, the #NotInMyName campaign’s Siyabulela Jentile told an audience of protesters outside Pretoria Magistrates Court this morning that men cannot be allowed to rape and blame their actions on insanity.

READ MORE: Dros rapist has history of mental illness, his defence argues

#NotInMyName was one of the many groups of people picketing outside the court, with the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), Bikers Against Child Abuse, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation, EFF, and DA among the others.

Jentile’s views have been widely echoed on social media.

Some feel that the attempts of Ninow’s lawyers to highlight his mental health history are not just wrong, but indicative of his privilege. Some tweets hinted at this privilege while others were more explicit, expressing the opinion that Ninow’s mental health is only becoming a significant factor in his trial due to him being white.

Some have suggested that, by allowing Ninow’s defence to use mental illness as an excuse for his actions, mental health is being stigmatised.

“Drugs and bipolar disorder do not magically turn anyone into a paedophile and a rapist,” wrote one user.

Notably, it was the prosecutor in the case, Sanet Jacobson, not the defence, who suggested he should be sent to Weskoppies for psychiatric evaluation, in the “interests of justice”.

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