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Court dismisses interim order by sexual assault accused to 'silence' anti-GBV activist

The crowd outside Khayelitsha Magistrates Court in support of Caroline Peters. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku

The crowd outside Khayelitsha Magistrates Court in support of Caroline Peters. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku

Published Dec 14, 2021


Cape Town - The Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court has dismissed an interim order it granted a sexual assault accused to “silence” an anti-gender-based-violence activist after he missed court.

Following the accused’s appearance at court in October, the Khayelitsha man launched an application in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act on the basis that activist Caroline Peters publicly identified him by name and posted his details on social media.

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The accused also laid criminal charges against Peters for contravening the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA). He is currently out on R4 000 bail and has not pleaded.

Peters said that on November 14 she was served with an interim protection order to prevent her from “harassing” the accused after she and a group of activists demonstrated outside court in support of the alleged rape victim.

Peters and her community-based organisations are providing support to the victim in the case, which included attending court appearances.

Peters said that when she received the summons she immediately felt what thousands of gender-based violence victims went through; being abused and silenced.

“I have been doing this work for almost 30 years and to be silenced now while perpetrators are allowed to do what they want is unconstitutional. As an activist, this interim order silenced me, took away my voice, and demoralised me.

“Coming to court today I was anxious, and that is what the accused has been trying to do, to intimidate me so that I keep quiet. One of the things that he wanted was for me and my agents to stay away from court, and with the outcome we are now able to support the victim,” she said.

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However, the criminal case against her for contravening the provisions of the CPA is ongoing.

Women's Legal Centre Advocate Bronwyn Pithey said the centre would launch a High Court application to challenge the constitutionality of certain provisions of the law contained in the CPA which prohibited the publication of the identity of an accused charged with a sexual offence before pleading to the charges.

“The constitutional challenge will broadly focus on the discriminatory aspects of the law which seek to further silence rape and sexual assault survivors and their supporters through the criminalisation of women who speak out and name those men accused of rape.

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“The challenge will also address the misuse of legislation such as the Protection from Harassment Act, which is essentially intended to protect women and is appropriated by men and inappropriately used against women to silence them,” she said.

Pithey said the CPA was only used in sexual offence cases, while a victim could identify a perpetrator before they pleaded in any other matter, like murder, drug trafficking, fraud and other matters.

The accused is appearing at the Wynberg Magistrate’s court today on sexual assault charges.

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