The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it believed it had advanced its efforts to prove that Nicholas Ninow’s intention to rape a girl, then aged 7, in the toilets of the Dros restaurant in Silverton was premeditated.
Both the mother and child testified in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Wednesday. Their identities were concealed by order of the court to protect the child.
The judge cleared the courtroom while the young girl, now 8, testified via CCTV, while the mother gave her testimony from another room so only her voice could be heard in court.
NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said afterward the child’s testimony of what happened on that fateful day she had been in the play area differed from what Ninow, who has confessed to raping her, said in his plea explanation.
“From the child’s testimony, the accused followed her to the toilet” whereas in Ninow’s sequence of events, he was in the toilet when she came in and he acted impulsively in raping her.
Mjonondwane said they had proved that by following the child, Ninow had an intention to harm her.
According to Ninow, 21, the girl walked in on him as he was hiding in a cubicle in the women’s bathroom where he was using the drug CAT.
Earlier, the mother told the court she was assisted to forcibly push open the door as the person behind it (Ninow) did not want to open it.
She heard the harrowing cry of her child for help when she called out her name, saying: “Mom, please help me”.
She said she and other restaurant employees had struggled to get inside. “And as we pushed harder, the person inside said ‘What do you want? You are disturbing me.”
She said that when they eventually managed to get the door open she grabbed her child and took her out of the bathroom immediately.
However, she said the image of Ninow running out of the bathroom toilet naked and into the men’s bathroom shocked her.
She said that she needed to find out more so passed her daughter to another woman and followed Ninow. “When I arrived in the men’s toilet, I found him wiping his private parts with my daughter’s tights and underwear.
“Afterwards, I asked him why he was flushing my daughter’s clothing (in the toilet), but he didn’t respond.”
Returning to her daughter’s side, the mother told the court she noticed there was blood on her daughter’s blue tutu skirt. She checked immediately as feared the worst.
She explained that she was still traumatized by the events of that fateful day. “I’m not okay with what I witnessed; I don’t think I’ll ever be okay I’ll continue going to counselling, together with the child,” she said in between sobs.
On Monday, Ninow’s legal representative Herman Alberts read Ninow’s statement to the court where he admitted guilt on three of the four charges against him. He pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, possession of illegal substances and defeating the ends of justice, but not guilty to assault.
The assault charge relates to him allegedly fending off the mother and restaurant staff with his belt.
Mjonondwane commended the victim for her bravery in giving her account of what had transpired. She said they were pleased the girl was able to dispel the version Ninow had given to the court about her having found him when he was in the toilet.
“The girl was able to inform the court that, unlike Ninow claimed, he had, in fact, followed her to the toilet. So he went in there with the intention to harm the child.”
Members of the public and media were barred from being present during the girl’s testimony, as presiding Judge Papi Mosopa said that he had taken into consideration the child was a minor. The images, names and other details of her statement may not be published, Judge Mosopa ordered.
Following an adjournment, Judge Mosopa called in the investigating officer who took down the statement of the restaurant childminder, which Ninow’s legal defence was questioning. She testified that she had led the girl to the bathroom before going on her break. She said the terrible incident continued to haunt her.
Ninow’s defence abandoned the query and finally dismissed the childminder.
The matter will proceed today with the court hearing closing arguments, and even a possible judgment