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.

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