RAPE CASE MOVES AFTER 8 YEARs
The ill health of a magistrate and the accused's failure to come to court have been given as reasons why it has taken eight years for the rape case of a Limpopo woman to be concluded.
Last week Sowetan reported that a 22-year-old woman, who was allegedly raped in 2000, had yet to see justice done eight years after her ordeal.
The woman, from Malebitsa village near Marapyane, said she was not told why her case had been postponed so many times over the years,
On Friday national prosecuting authority spokesman Bulelwa Makeke said the matter had been postponed several times "to accommodate requisite processes, including the appointment of a Legal Aid attorney for the accused".
"The prosecutor handling the case had in fact informed the victim of the reasons for the postponements," Makeke said.
"On one occasion the postponement was because the magistrate was not available as a result of ill health, which meant that all the cases scheduled for that day had to be postponed," she said.
"Another postponement was because one of the accused did not attend court and a warrant of arrest was issued against him.
"He had to be traced, while in another case one of the accused pleaded not guilty.
"The state was ready to proceed but a conflict of interests between the accused and his attorney led to the attorney's withdrawal from the case."
The matter had to be postponed until another lawyer was found for the accused.
"Subsequently a number of postponements were due to the unavailability of the defence attorneys for various reasons," she said.
"The magistrate marked the matter as preferential (a matter to be prioritised on the court roll)."
She said the complainant and witnesses had now finalised their testimonies and the case has been scheduled for February 4 2009, when the accused are expected to give evidence and the prosecution will cross-examine them.
"The chief prosecutor has instructed the prosecutor handling the case to take all possible steps to finalise the matter on that date."