A two-year-old girl was allegedly raped at her creche in an up market Cape Town surburb and now the case is being struck of the roll because the victim is deemed too young to testify.
A creche employee who was initially accused of the crime, could potentially be back at work in the next few weeks.
The National Prosecuting Authority says the case is not over and the charges could be reinstated at a later point.
The question this raises is how can such a crime be prosecuted if victims are too young to speak for themselves. How do you find a way for a minor to give credible evidence? And does that mean you cannot prosecute such a case unless you have indisputable physical evidence?
Speaking to Pippa Hudson, Clinical Director at Teddy Bear Clinic, Dr Shaheda Omar said this presents a huge challenge as they usually work with children who are two-and-a-half years and older.
The two-year-old, may not have the verbal capacity or the vocabulary or even the understanding of what has happened. We find that two-year-old's - there may be behavioral manifestations when the child starts crying and not wanting to go where it has actually occurred - or regressive behaviour. That is what we usually find.— Dr Shaheda Omar, Clinical Director at Teddy Bear Clinic
Omar says preparing a two-year-old for court is not practical.
They do not have the cognitive capacity to process what is being provided or offered to them. However, looking at the case, yes the case has been struck of the roll, what usually happens is that the child would be given leeway.— Dr Shaheda Omar, Clinical Director at Teddy Bear Clinic
She explains how the toddler may be returned to therapy when he or she reaches the age of two-and-a-half.
Even if the child is not able to verbalise what happened, given the opportunity of expressing and working through the ills of the perceived hurt, the chances are quite likely that the child would be able to verbalise or demonstrate the compelling trauma that the child has suffered.
Listen further to the full interview:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Preparing young rape victims for court is challenging says Teddy Bear Cinic