Three weeks after a 13-year-old black girl reported being assaulted and racially abused in Kraaifontein by a middle-aged white man, police had still not interviewed key eyewitnesses.
The girl’s family now want the investigating officer pulled from the case.
This emerged at Kuils River Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday November 23, when Jonathan Warwick made his first appearance on a charge of common assault.
The case was postponed to January 6 next year after the prosecutor, Lazaan Williams, told magistrate Msushwana Sam Nkabinde that the investigating officer needed more time to take statements from four of the girl’s friends who had been with her when the alleged assault happened.
In an interview with Northern News (“Teen still traumatised by ‘race attack”, November 23), the girl, who cannot be named because she is a minor, described how she and her friends had been walking home to Bloekombos from the Kraaifontein library on Monday October 31, when a man chased them down the street in the quiet suburb of Peerless Park North, accusing them of making a noise.
The girl said her friends had gotten away, but he had grabbed her by the arm, called her a “k*****” and sworn at her before grabbing her by the neck and hitting her head against a pole.
Outside the court on Wednesday, pastor Msingathi Nkantini, who accompanied the girl’s family, said they were unhappy with the postponement because the detective had had ample time to gather statements.
Mr Nkantini, along with Social Justice Coalition provincial organiser Nomlindisi Qezo, Ward 101 councillor Luyanda Mbele and about a dozen residents took a taxi to the Kraaifontein police station to ask Brigadier Gerda van Niekerk to take the investigating officer off the case immediately. The family said Brigadier Van Niekerk had refused to do that and they would now
approach provincial police ombudsman Vusi Pikoli’s office.
Mr Warwick, an imposing man clad in duty boots, a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, cast a forlorn figure outside courtroom D as he waited to be called.
Speaking among themselves outside the temporary prefab courtroom before the case began, residents said the child couldn’t even make eye contact with her alleged assailant as she passed him in an awkward moment.
The family said the girl had yet to receive counselling.
Accompanied by an unknown man and woman, Mr Warwick shied away from the Northern News’ attempts to photograph him.
Mr Warwick, who is out on a warning, wasn’t asked to plead. He opted to represent himself in the dock and when the court adjourned he slipped away through a back exit.
Ms Qezo said residents were organising placards and a massive march for the January 6 court appearance.
When the Northern News visited Mr Warwick’s home seeking comment, no one answered the door.
Brigadier Van Niekerk did not respond to questions sent on Wednesday November 23. She also ignored a reminder on Monday November 27.
Constable Noloyiso Rwexana, provincial police spokeswoman, said the family’s allegations against the investigating officer had been investigated and he would not be taken off the case.
Constable Rwexana did not respond to several questions, including why it had apparently taken the family two weeks to get a case number and why Mr Warwick was only facing a charge of common assault when the girl had also reported being racially abused.