Pretoria child porn case draws to a close

22 January 2018 - 16:25 By Sipho Mabena
Forensic social worker Dr Shaheda Omar said that trauma resulted in fright‚ flight or freeze which she said was possible to lead to dissociation of memories.
Forensic social worker Dr Shaheda Omar said that trauma resulted in fright‚ flight or freeze which she said was possible to lead to dissociation of memories.
Image: Thinkstock

The significance of court preparation therapy for children in sexual abuse cases came under sharp focus when the trial of Pretoria North family members facing 53 charges of sexual abuse and child pornography resumed in the Pretoria North Regional Court on Monday.

The state has closed its case with the evidence of the last of its three expert witnesses‚ Dr Shaheda Omar‚ a forensic social worker at the Teddy Bear Clinic.

She initially assessed the six children in 2011 and again in May 2013 as part of their preparation to give evidence in the trial.

Giving evidence under cross examination‚ Omar said in her assessment‚ one of the children‚ a boy‚ could not recall what had happened to him.

“One cannot guarantee 100% that he fully understands but a competency test showed he had challenges recalling what happened in the incident. There was a huge gap in recall‚” she said.

Omar testified that trauma resulted in fright‚ flight or freeze which she said was possible to lead to dissociation of memories.

The defence‚ which sought to poke holes in the testimony of the children‚ pointed out to Omar that the child testified and mentioned to her in the report that he was not molested.

Omar agreed‚ saying the boy did not speak of a direct form of assault but spoke of attempts and him running away but did speak of witnessing or observing some of these sexual acts.

The accused are expected to bring an application for the charges to be dismissed for lack of evidence when the matter resumes on March 5.

Miranda Friedman‚ director and founder of Women and Men Against Child Abuse‚ said the chances of the charges being dismissed on lack of evidence were non-existent.

“I do not see (the magistrate granting the application). There are pictures and videos. Also‚ there is enough evidence taken from the children‚” she said.

The case‚ which has dragged on for more than seven years‚ involves a grandfather‚ 58‚ his wife‚ 57‚ brother‚ 61‚ sister-in-law‚ 42‚ nephew‚ 28‚ his two adult children‚ 34 and 36‚ and their spouses‚ 26 and 31‚ charged with rape‚ indecent assault‚ sexual grooming of children and possession‚ manufacturing and distribution of child pornography.

The alleged victims‚ six minor children (the youngest 4 and the oldest 13 at the time) were removed from the family’s care in December 2010 when the family members were nabbed for allegedly forcing the children to commit sexual acts amongst themselves and filmed for the purpose of producing child pornography.

Of the nine accused‚ two have been found not guilty and a third was sentenced in 2015 to 9 years in prison for the rape of his then 9-year-old sibling.

- TimesLIVE

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