Low bail sets anti-abuse fight back

Had the man been denied or granted a steep bail amount, that would have also shown the public that our justice system is in touch with the sentiments of the society, the writer says.
Had the man been denied or granted a steep bail amount, that would have also shown the public that our justice system is in touch with the sentiments of the society, the writer says.
Image: Antonio Muchave

The release of an attempted rape accused on a R500 bail is a letdown of the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.

The man, who allegedly assaulted and tried to rape his 91-year-old mother two weeks ago, was granted bail by the Protea magistrate's court yesterday.

As part of his bail conditions, the man will be living with his wife at an alternative address, and he was warned not to contact the elderly woman until the matter has been finalised.

The 53-year-old was also ordered to contact the local police station and a relative when he wants to pick up his personal belongings from his mother's house.

The court is within its rights to grant whatever bail amount it deems fit for a suspect, however, in a country that faces a scourge of gender-based violence like ours, we expected the court to make it harder for the alleged abuser to leave prison.

Not so long ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that laws will be amended to ensure that no bail was granted to alleged rapists and killers of women and children.

We understand that Ramaphosa's plan is still being implemented, we just wish the court had used this case to send a strong message to abusers or would-be offenders.

This would have shown them that courts are serious about dealing with gender-based violence.

Had this man been denied or granted a steep bail amount, that would have also shown the public that our justice system is in touch with the sentiments of the society that has had enough women being raped and killed.

The 91-year-old alleges that she has been physically and verbally abused by her son for many years. She told Sowetan that she had even obtained a protection order against him, but later withdrew it after a relative begged her to forgive him.

This was more reason for the court to keep this man in jail. There is record in court that he is not being accused of violence for the first time.

For now, our hope is that the president's action plan, which includes legislative reforms that will ensure perpetrators are denied bail and spend their lives in prison, would be implemented sooner for women and children to be safe.

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