Nicholas Ninow Dros

(Janke Tolmay / eNCA)

Dros update: Plea expected as Nicholas Ninow returns to court on Friday

It’s crunch time for Nicholas Ninow on Friday, after the alleged Dros rapist completed his stay at a psychiatric hospital this week.

Nicholas Ninow Dros

(Janke Tolmay / eNCA)

The Nicholas Ninow case has been one of the most intensely-followed legal battles in recent South African history – yet we’ve not even got to the point where he has entered a plea yet. However, that looks set to change on Friday when the alleged Dros rapist returns to court.

Ninow has spent the last 30 days at the Weskoppies Mental Hospital in Gauteng. During his stay, he was subject to a series of psychiatric evaluations from various medical professionals. With his time on the ward complete, the presiding judge in Pretoria will now be assisted by the doctors’ report on the accused’s condition.

After he was arrested for the rape of a seven-year-old girl in a Pretoria Dros restaurant, Nicholas Ninow was found to be in possession of tik. While in police custody, stories of a childhood full of substance abuse and mental health issues soon surfaced. In the interest of making sure this trial would be 100% fair, it was agreed Ninow would go to a mental hospital before entering his plea.

How will Nicholas Ninow plea?

For the last few months, those canvassing for a hefty punishment have feared that the accused would attempt to enter a “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” (NGRI) defence. Civil rights group Not In My Name SA have already confirmed they will be at the Pretoria Regional Court on Friday, to oppose any potential plea of this kind:

Could the alleged Dros rapist be found insane?

The brutality of the crime he allegedly committed has whipped up public interest to fever pitch, but justice cannot be rushed. When he returns to court on Friday, the judge will be able to declare if he’s fit to stand trial or not. According to Forensic Psychologist Gerard Labuschange, the bench will have to consider two factors before proceeding:

“The goal is to determine two things: Was Nicholas Ninow struggling to determine right from wrong at the time of the crime? And is he mentally competent in the “here and now” – as in, does this person have the ability to contribute to his defence, speak to his lawyers, and stand trial?”

Gerard Labuschange

If – or when – insanity is ruled out as a defence, we can finally expect to find out how Nicholas Ninow and his defence team will plea; almost five months after his initial arrest. With all evaluations completed, another major stumbling block may have been removed for the prosecution. But in a trial as complex as this, there’s no guarantee Friday will be a linear process.