Namibia: Psychiatrist's Rape Acquittal Stands

8 December 2021

The State has lost its bid to approach the Supreme Court to appeal the acquittal of psychiatrist Pieter van der Westhuizen, who is accused of raping one of his patients at his consulting rooms in Swakopmund.

High Court Judge Eileen Rakow yesterday dismissed the State's application for leave to appeal. She indicated the reasons for her order would be made available at a later stage.

In their now failed application, the State is of the view the High Court misdirected herself when it acquitted Van der Westhuizen (64) on all charges he was facing, despite them having presented a strong prima facie case against him.

Prosecutor Palmer Khumalo during the hearing noted that the victim who is the only eye witness, gave a detailed description of what transpired on the date in question. He said should another court be presented with the same facts; they would arrive at a different conclusion.

In her judgement, Rakow acquitted Van der Westhuizen on three counts of rape, a charge of indecent assault and a charge of attempted murder, alternatively using drugs to overpower a woman so that he could have unlawful intercourse with her. The incident allegedly occurred on 7 November 2015.

According to Rakow, there was no evidence before the court on which he could be convicted. The court ruled that according to medical witnesses who testified, the victim's allegations might have been the result of a false memory.

Furthermore, Van der Westhuizen had erectile dysfunction in 2015 and it would not have been possible for him to have penetrative intercourse at the time of the alleged incident.

Van Der Westhuizen was being represented by Stephen Farell for the appeal proceedings.

AllAfrica publishes around 500 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.