Having dragged on for over four years after several postponements, a defilement case involving an orphan and an elderly neighbour is set for another lengthy delay.
Due to go before Maun Magistrates’ Court last Friday, the matter, in which Peter Keakopa, 48, is accused of sexually assaulting a then 11-year-old girl of Samedupi settlement, was pushed back to March next year.
This, after presiding Magistrate, Thebeetsile Mulalo, who is said to be going on a long study leave, expressed his reluctance to take new trials.
“As you know, I cannot take new trials, we have to set it to another date,” Mulalo told court, requesting the case be reassigned to another magistrate.
The incident dates back to July 2018, when the young complainant was sent by her aunt to a neighbour’s house to ask for cooking oil. While on the errand, she was allegedly raped by Keakopa at his house.
Describing the alleged attack, the girl told of how the man undressed her, defiled her and then threatened her to silence.
Initially due to commence in 2020, the trial was postponed in November of the same year to allow both Keakopa and the child to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
The girl had described the ordeal in explicit detail, naming the sexual organs and how they function, prompting the court to evaluate her mental state.
While the results indicated she was ‘an imbecile’, Keakopa, who has maintained his innocence throughout, was found to be mentally fit to stand trial.
After a lengthy wait for the report, the case was further stalled when the report went missing from the police’s desk.
When a copy was finally located, the police prosecution changed the charge from rape to ‘defilement of an imbecile’.
By this point Keakopa was nowhere to be found, missing consecutive court dates in June and August, which led to a warrant of arrest being issued against him.
However, the accused’s attorney insisted he was in fact to blame for his client’s no show.
A trial date was set for 28 October only for the wheels of justice to once again hit a bump, with the road now extended for a further five months.