11 December 2009

South Africa: 'He Took Off All My Clothes'

After two hours of describing the events of the night he was raped, the nine-year-old boy leaned his head on the couch, turned away from the camera and said: "I've been asked to say this over and over again. I'm tired now".

Sitting in a room separate from the courtroom in the company of an intermediary, the boy, dressed in a checked shirt and shorts, had earlier given graphic evidence - via camera - of how he was raped.

Sitting in the dock of the courtroom at the Pinetown Regional Court, 41-year-old Gunther Gys listened to him.

Gys, a Belgium national, is accused of raping and sexually assaulting the boy at his Crestholme residence, near Hillcrest, last year.

He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

During cross-examination by Gys's advocate, Chris Snyman, the boy grew increasingly restless and eventually told the court he was tired.

He was asked by Magistrate Bilkish Asmal if he wanted to continue with the court proceedings, or resume today.

The boy responded he wanted to continue but said he did not want be asked the same questions over and over again.

Moments later, the boy grew restless again and when he was asked to look into the camera when answering, he became emotional, saying: "He is there. I don't want him to see me."

Despite reassurance by the magistrate that no harm would come to him, the boy began crying and the matter had to be adjourned.

During his earlier testimony, the boy told the court he had met Gys through his brother, who had been living at Agape (Children's Home), where Gys was working.

He said at the time of the incident he was staying with Gys, together with four other children, because his mother was sick.

The boy recalled that he had shared a room with two of the children and was asleep on the top bunk bed on the night of the incident.

"Gunther came to me. He took off all my clothes."

The boy said he was then carried to Gys's room, and described events which allegedly followed.

"I was crying. It was painful. I then wet the bed," the witness said.

The boy said after the incident, he asked to be taken back to his mother and later he was returned home.

At some stage, he told his mother, grandmother and sisters about the incident.

When asked by prosecutor Pareem Vahed how he felt after the incident the boy responded: "I felt bad."

During cross examination, Snyman questioned why the boy had not asked Gys why he had removed his pyjamas.

The boy responded: "I was scared. I was scared to ask him that type of question."

Responding to Snyman's questions about his relationship with Gys, the boy said he was not very close to Gys.

He also denied that he called Gys baba saying: "I used to call him G. He wanted me to call him baba but I didn't want to."

The case continues.

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