Judge drops genital mutilation charges
‘Legislature made a glaring omission’
THE FREE State High Court yesterday dropped several charges against Peter Frederiksen, who is accused of severing women’s clitorises in illegal operations at his house, because it is not a punishable offence in South Africa.
The Danish national is, however, still facing other charges including conspiracy to commit murder, rape and fraud, but the ruling brings to an end the angle of extensive interest to a case which had drawn a global following since it broke about two years ago.
Frederiksen was arrested in September 2015 after the Hawks found a plastic bag in a locked deep-freezer containing 21 clitorises packed in small plastic bags. This was after a tip-off from his late wife, Anna Matseliso Molise, following a domestic dispute.
He was charged with contravening certain sections of the National Health Act (NHA) of 2003 and faced about 20 charges for the removal of human tissue, as well as the removal of human tissue in an unauthorised place.
Yesterday, Judge Johan Daffue expressed regret at the country’s laws when he delivered judgment following an application for discharge by Frederiksen at the close of the State’s case, saying the legislature made a glaring omission by not adequately covering the removal and transplantation of human tissue when it passed the NHA.
“Right from the start of the trial, I had doubts if the accused would be found guilty on these charges,” said Judge Daffue.
“The application for discharge for counts 8-27 is therefore granted,” he added.
Frederiksen’s application for discharge on two other charges, however, did not succeed, and he is now expected to put up his defence when the case resumes on October 11.
He wanted to be acquitted on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, in which he is accused of plotting the hit in which his wife was gunned down in Maseru, Lesotho, as well as the charge of paying a State witness in order to influence the person’s testimony.
Justice Daffue said it was surprising that for some reason, the NHA, which repealed the Tissue Act, failed to adequately cover the removal of human tissue and the penalties attached to it. He said it was, therefore, impossible for courts to venture into the area of legislature, and suggested Parliament review the law.