Child rape accused fit to stand trial

Image: Deneesha Pillay

A man accused of rape and human trafficking was declared fit to stand trial after delaying court proceedings this week by claiming he was not well and needed medical attention for pains in his left arm.

On Monday, the 61-year-old man from Greenbushes halted proceedings as prosecutor Zelda Swanepoel began leading evidence from the 46-year-old daughter of one of the co-accused.

The man, who is not being named to protect the identity of his alleged victim, complained of chest and arm pains, prompting the court to order that he be seen by a doctor.

By Wednesday morning, it was established that he was fit enough to continue after numerous tests concluded that he was suffering from slightly heightened blood pressure.

On Wednesday, the 46-year-old woman, whose mother, 63, and uncle, 61, are facing charges of human trafficking after they allegedly forced a 13-year-old to marry the Greenbushes man, said she had heard about the arrangement from the young girl and had no prior knowledge of it.

The woman claimed it was after she returned home with her daughter from collecting wood in a nearby forest in the Bizana area that the girl informed her that the man had asked her to be his wife, to which she agreed.

The woman said she asked the young girl if she knew what it meant to be married, to which she allegedly said she did because she wanted to be like the woman who was caring for her.

In 2015, the girl went to live with the woman in Bizana after she was taken into the care of the woman’s mother, who claimed the girl was being mistreated by her 61-year-old uncle whom she was living with after her mother died.

In March 2016, lobola negotiations began and by October that year R17,000 had been paid for the young girl.

She was then sent to Port Elizabeth to live as the wife of the Greenbushes man.

Defence counsel for the girl’s alleged husband, attorney George Malgas, said it was his instruction from his client that the 46-year-old woman was actively scouting for a wife for the man, which the woman denied.

Referring to the transcripts of the girl’s evidence in chief, Malgas said the girl had claimed that while she was with the 46-year-old woman gathering wood the woman had proposed the prospect of getting married.

All three accused have been charged with trafficking of persons and a separate charge of human trafficking culminating in a forced marriage for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The alleged husband faces two additional charges of rape.

At the beginning of the trial the girl’s uncle pleaded guilty to a charge of human trafficking concluding in a forced marriage with the purpose of sexual exploitation.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge of human trafficking, which is different in context, while the other two pleaded not guilty to the charges they faced.

The case continues.

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