Polokwane – A 17-year-old Limpopo girl who allegedly killed a man who wanted to rape her was on Wednesday part of a preliminary inquiry aimed at deciding how the case should proceed.
Ten days ago, on June 11, the man allegedly confronted the teen while she was on her way to the local tavern in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“[He] wanted to rape her but she fought back, overpowered him, disarmed him of his knife and stabbed him to death,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe at the time.
The girl later handed herself over to the police.
The story elicited strong responses from News24 readers, who wanted to know why the girl had been taken into custody and what would happen to her.
Many also criticised police for condemning the act of walking alone in a street late at night, and not saying anything about those who committed rape.
Ngoepe recently clarified her statements to News24.
“We cannot totally ignore that she also became a victim of attempted rape. It is true. Men must stop that [rape].”
‘The right hands’
Limpopo police were said to have spoken to communities to drive this point home. One intervention involved convicted rapists encouraging men in engagement sessions to stop such criminal acts.
The teenager was assigned a social worker and a trauma counsellor “to help her prepare for her case”.
“I want to assure members of communities that she is in the right hands. We are not ignoring the fact that she is underage,” said Ngoepe.
Justice ministry spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga confirmed on Wednesday that the teen was being held at a child and youth care centre, awaiting finalisation of the preliminary inquiry.
According to a general notice by the department on the Child Justice Act, such an inquiry aimed to ensure that a “collective, determined effort” was made to consider what should be done in the case of each child.
“The preliminary inquiry is designed to avoid children slipping through the intended safeguards, and to change negative practices from the past where insufficient attention was paid to children in the early stages of their case being processed, sometimes causing them to languish in detention for several weeks or even months.”
Legal Aid lawyer
Mhaga said a probation officer had conducted an assessment and compiled a report.
The preliminary inquiry was previously postponed for the appointment of a Legal Aid lawyer for the girl.
The inquiry process also involved a magistrate, the child’s parents, a prosecutor, a probation officer, and the arresting police officer.
“These people will meet to talk to the child about his/her circumstances, his/her family environment and the factors that may have led the child to commit the crime,” the police website explained.
Consideration was given in the process for diverting the matter away from the criminal justice system.
Mhaga said the case would be monitored by the chairperson of the Limpopo Provincial Child Justice Forum.
Any developments would be reported on to the head of the National Technical Intersectoral Committee for Child Justice.