Mag­is­trate slams pre­vi­ous bail pro­ce­dure

Man ac­cused of rap­ing chil­dren

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

A WYN­BERG mag­is­trate, grant­ing an Athlone crèche owner bail of R5 000 in a case in­volv­ing charges of the rape and sex­ual as­sault of chil­dren, took a swipe at a se­nior prose­cu­tor for not op­pos­ing the ac­cused’s re­lease on bail in a pre­vi­ous case against him.

The de­ci­sion of prose­cu­tor Deon Ruiters, who worked pre­vi­ously at a spe­cialised sex of­fences court, was “be­yond my com­pre­hen­sion”, mag­is­trate Hafiza Mo­hamed said yes­ter­day in the Wyn­berg Mag­is­trate’s Court, adding Ruiters lacked in­sight and knowl­edge of the law.

She made the com­ments at the start of a judg­ment in the bail ap­pli­ca­tion of Des­mond Kriger, 64, who is ac­cused of three counts of rape and three of sex­ual as­sault. They re­late to crimes he al­legedly com­mit­ted against six young girls who at­tended the Lit­tle An­gels Ed­u­care Cen­tre crèche.

One of the charges against him dates back more than 10 years. The al­leged vic­tim re­ported the in­ci­dent af­ter hear­ing about more re­cent cases.

The crèche has since been closed by the Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment.

Be­fore mag­is­trate Mo­hamed gave her rea­sons for her de­ci­sion to re­lease Kriger on bail in the case be­fore her, she crit­i­cised Ruiters, ques­tion­ing why he had not first ver­i­fied im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion be­fore de­cid­ing to not op­pose bail on the pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion, es­pe­cially when he could have re­quested a seven-day re­mand.

She said it was a “trav­esty of jus­tice” that a prose­cu­tor in a spe­cialised court could make “such non­cha­lant” de­ci­sions on bail in cases in­volv­ing such a se­ri­ous charge.

In ad­di­tion, she said the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer also sent the ac­cused to court with un­known de­tec­tives, and didn’t bother to dis­cuss the case with the prose­cu­tor.

Turn­ing to the ev­i­dence be­fore her in the bail ap­pli­ca­tion, she said the charges against Kriger were se­ri­ous, and there was an “out­cry” in the com­mu­nity against such of­fences, which had be­come preva­lent in so­ci­ety.

How­ever, Mo­hamed said, the court could not be driven by emo­tion and Kriger had com­plied with pre­vi­ous bail con­di­tions and had a fixed ad­dress.

In ad­di­tion, she said the State had not proved there was a like­li­hood he would in­ter­fere with wit­nesses, or that he would be ex­posed to the chil­dren, since the crèche was no longer op­er­at­ing.

She granted him bail of R5 000 and barred him from en­ter­ing the Athlone area or con­tact­ing the vic­tims or their fam­i­lies.

In ad­di­tion, she or­dered that he should con­tinue to live in the Clare­mont area un­til the case was fi­nalised.

Ac­cord­ing to the State’s al­le­ga­tions, Kriger al­legedly fon­dled young girls, ei­ther while driv­ing them home from the crèche or af­ter­care, or dur­ing play­time.

The girls al­legedly re­ported how “Un­cle Des” would ar­range to have one girl sit­ting in front with him in his bakkie, giv­ing him the op­por­tu­nity to fon­dle them.

Oth­ers al­legedly re­ported sit­ting on his lap dur­ing play­time, some­times two girls at a time, while the al­leged sex­ual as­saults took place.

Kriger is to ap­pear in court again on Au­gust 12.

PIC­TURE: TRACEY ADAMS

MAKE-UP ARTIST: Oc­tavia Mul­der leaves court with a rel­a­tive af­ter she was granted bail. Mul­der faces mur­der and rob­bery charges over the death of brothel owner Pe­dro Lopez of Oran­jezicht.

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