Two under-aged girls, who were raped and trafficked by a South African national, suffered post-traumatic stress after the sexual encounters, a social worker testified yesterday in the Windhoek High Court.
Veronica Theron, who is attached to the office of First Lady Monica Geingos, gave the testimony during the aggravation of sentence in the matter involving 49-year-old paedophile Marthinus Pretorius.
“A 13-year-old cannot comprehend the consequences of such an act, as their cognitive abilities have not been developed fully yet,” she said.
According to her, even though the girls were willing participants in the sexual acts, the fact that they were promised payment and other inducements was a measure of coercion.
According to her, if you promise a 13-year-old N$1 000 or a cell phone to do something, it would be difficult for her to say no.
She further said, according to the transcripts, it was clear that at least one of the girls were “dumbfounded” after she took off her clothes and was just standing there until prodded.
Pretorius was convicted by Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula in November last year on the charge of trafficking in persons, a charge he denied, while he pleaded guilty to the rape of two under-aged girls.
During his testimony in mitigation, Pretorius told the judge: “I am sorry for what I have done”.
During his conviction ruling, Judge Angula found Pretorius received the two girls in question – then 13 and 14 years old, respectively – at his house at Swakopmund for the purpose of sexual exploitation – and as a result, was guilty of trafficking in persons in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
According to the judge, as a former police officer, Pretorius should have known it was an offence to have intercourse with minor girls.
Pretorius pleaded guilty to six counts of rape when his trial started, but pleaded not guilty to six counts of child trafficking, saying the minors were brought to him or came on their own free will, and that he never detained any of them at his house.
The judge rejected the defence of Pretorius that the girls had gone to his house voluntarily and agreed to have intercourse with him for money, and that he did not detain them at his house against their will.
Pretorius said he accepted the court’s decision, and will abide by it.
He, however, apologised profusely to the victims and their families as well as the Namibian nation and the court.
Pretorius was charged with 13 charges of rape and trafficking in persons alternatively committing a sexual act with a child below 16 years of age for allegedly defiling three minor girls while he was attached at the Rössing mine in 2012. The State, however, withdrew the charges for the third complainant, as it came to light that she was 18 years old and was coerced by her mother to engage in intercourse with Pretorius in exchange for money.
Pretorius managed to flee to his native country South Africa after his alleged devious schemes to procure young girls from a Swakopmund woman for his perverted sexual pleasures were uncovered.
He was arrested in Johannesburg, South Africa, in March 2016 after the Namibian authorities asked the South African authorities to extradite him to Namibia to stand trial on his alleged misdeeds, but was only extradited to Namibia in December 2018 due to the long extradition process.
Pretorius is currently being held at the Windhoek Correctional facility’s section for trial awaiting prisoners.
The matter will return to court on 18 January 2022 for submissions on the sentence.