Outcry as murder-accused husband gets R2,000 bail and is allowed to visit his child
“Is this what justice is? For him this bail of R2,000 is like a pat on the back.”
These were the words of Maria Clarke after the East London magistrate's court granted the man accused of killing her daughter, Angelique Clark-Abrahams, R2,000 bail.
DispatchLIVE reported that Carl Abrahams, Clarke-Abrahams' husband, was released on bail on Monday. He has also been granted permission to visit their child.
The bail outcome has shocked Clarke-Abrahams' family and women's rights organisations.
“I am sure for his family it is very good. He will be allowed to see the child under my supervision as well,” Clarke told DispatchLIVE.
Abrahams has been charged with rape and murder.
He was arrested in August after Clarke-Abrahams was assaulted and subsequently admitted to Cecilia Makiwane hospital’s ICU, where she died.
Organisations in the Eastern Cape opposing gender-based violence lambasted the move to grant Abrahams bail, calling it an insult in the fight against gender-based violence.
The activists called for the justice system to send a strong message to people accused of GBV.
Siyamthanda Ndlela, of the Total Shutdown Movement, said: “I am completely shocked that this man received bail when the president has called for harsh sentences for gender-based-violence perpetrators and no bail for its suspects.”
Addressing a joint sitting between the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and members of the National Assembly in September, President Cyril Ramaphosa told members about his emergency plan to tackle violence against women and children. He said: “We affirm our position that the state should oppose bail for suspects charged with rape and murder of women and children.”
Ndlela said some gender-based-violence cases did not have enough evidence, but it was the duty of the justice system to fast-track such cases.
“The system needs to look into that so that cases do not drag on.”
Clarke-Abrahams' death sent shock waves across the country and prompted Ramaphosa to visit her family and those of slain UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana and boxing and karate champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels.
Masimanyane Women's Support Centre director Dr Lesley-Ann Foster, commenting on the bail outcome, said: “This is outrageous and wholly inappropriate.”
Foster, who also serves on the presidential interim committee on gender-based violence and femicide, said she would report the matter immediately to the presidential committee.
Bumb'INGOMSO's programme manager for behaviour change intervention, Mancane Futwa, said the accused being granted bail was insulting.
“The justice system needs to take GBV cases with a much higher tone. It's even worse when someone lost their lives. This [R2,000 bail] is worse than a slap in the face.
“The family will relive the trauma every time they see that person. It's an unfortunate thing to happen.” — Additional reporting by John Harvey