THE bail hearings of two separate cases of sexual abuse in Oshakati are but the tip of the iceberg of increasing reports of violent sexual abuse and predatory behaviour against underage victims.
In one of the cases, the biological father of a 16-year old girl, whose name is withheld to protect the identity of his victim, was remanded in custody until 22 November after a brutal attack and rape of his daughter that landed her in the Oshakati Hospital with serious injuries.
Angry members of the public are accusing the police of a poor job for not charging the father with an additional case of incest, but Acting Public Relations Officer of Oshana Region Police, Inspector Petrus Iimbili said that such a charge is not excluded. “It can still be added as the investigation continues and we interact with the Office of the Prosecutor General,” he said.
At the same court, state prosecutors were fighting bail of two suspects that are in custody for human trafficking, while investigators informed the court that they have evidence pointing to a plan of the suspects to move the victim, age 14, to Henties Bay, had they not been arrested after family members reported the child missing.
Placido Hilukilwa reports from Oshakati that there were moments of drama in Room D of the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court where Jakobus Steven van Zyl and Sylvia Bonifatius, who stand accused of human trafficking, kidnapping and rape, are applying for bail since 2 October.
Looking at the line up of witnesses called by the State, it is clear that State prosecutor Chrisna Masule is determined to ensure that the accused won’t be granted bail.
Those who testified for the State include NamRights executive director Phil yaNangoloh, businessman and community activist Sigo Amunyela, Detective Constable Abraham Eliaser and Grootfontein-based senior Home Affairs official, Quatro Gerhard.
Van Zyl and Bonifatius were arrested last month after a teenage girl was reported missing at Oshakati.
It is alleged that she went missing after her father admonished her because of alleged wayward behaviour.
She was then given a one-night accommodation by Bonifatius but was moved to Ondangwa the next day where she was allegedly locked up in a house belonging to Van Zyl.
During that period, Van Zyl allegedly sexually abused her. According to the police, she was rescued just in time before plans to secretly move her to Henties Bay could be implemented.
The case has attracted widespread public attention. Schoolchildren, teachers and parents staged a peaceful demonstration on the first day of the hearing, demanding that the duo be denied bail.
Initially, expected to last one to two days, the bail application hearing is now in its second week and the first seven days of the hearing were characterised by moments of drama.
On the first day, defence lawyers accused the prosecution team of applying delaying tactics by asking irrelevant questions during the cross examination of the accused.
On the second day the hearing could not start on time because Van Zyl was nowhere to be found and no one appeared to know his exact whereabouts.
It was later discovered that instead of being taken to Ongwediva police precinct, he was taken to the Ondangwa police holding cells without the knowledge of both the case investigation officer and his legal representative, Peter Greyling.
Greyling launched a formal complaint and asked the court to investigate the circumstances under which his client was taken to Ondangwa without his consent.
Defence lawyer Simson Aingura, who is representing Bonifatius, was reprimanded by the magistrate for delaying the hearing for hours while attending another case in the Oshakati Division of the High Court.
The Oshakati Chief Magistrate Mika Namweya on Wednesday postponed the hearing until Friday to allow the defence and prosecution to prepare their written submissions.