WINDHOEK - One of the two women accused of selling minor girls for sex walked out of court free as a bird after the State withdrew all charges against her. Zambian citizen Gwen Nelwembe represented by Georges Neves was already released on a warning during a previous court appearance after Neves objected to a further postponement as his client had been “languishing” in jail for four years without any evidence against her. State Advocate Innocencia Nyoni on Tuesday told Judge President Petrus Damaseb the State wished to withdraw all charges against Nelwembe because of a lack of evidence. Neves welcomed the move, saying that had the State made up its mind earlier his client would not have had to suffer unnecessarily. The State called an expert witness from South Africa to testify in the matter on Tuesday. According to Joan van Niekerk, a child rights consultant, the two girl victims in the matter were subjected to “grooming processes” which exploited their cognitive and moral immaturity and vulnerability. She said “child grooming” is a practice where actions are deliberately taken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, to lower the child’s inhibitions in order to sexually abuse the child or expose the child to sexual exploitation. According to her grooming is a process whereby victims are lured into relationships and situations in which they may be or are exploited. She said that relationships are developed with the victims who in this case are children. She said that according to what she saw so far, the two children involved in the case showed signs of being groomed. They were invited to the accused’s house, given food and there were promises of money and goods. In the case of these girls they were easily manipulated as they were from disadvantaged backgrounds, the expert told the court. Namibian citizen Johanna Lukas now faces 11 charges of trafficking in persons, rape, soliciting or enticing a minor to the commission of a sexual or an indecent or immoral act and rape on diverse occasions. The State alleges Lukas offered the minor girls up for sale to Swakopmund resident Marthinus Martin Pretorius, during April, May and June 2012 for sex under coercive circumstances considering the fact they were exceptionally vulnerable at the time of the crime. Pretorius, who is a South African citizen, was at the time of the incidents employed at one of the uranium mines at the coast. He managed to evade arrest and is currently believed to be in his native South Africa. His then girlfriend testified that Pretorius, who is a former apartheid policeman, is a brutal and mean person who made her life hell to the extent that she had to obtain a protection order against him. The trial was held in camera shortly after both accused pleaded not guilty to all charges on request of the State, but was reopened again for members of the public since the girls already testified.
New Era Reporter
2015-03-05 07:27:36 4 years ago