Weskoppies Nicholas Ninow Dros Restaurant Rape

Nicholas Ninow (Facebook)

Nicholas Ninow: Six questions raised by his transfer to Weskoppies

Court has been adjourned in the Nicholas Ninow trial, where he stands accused of raping a seven-year-old in a Dros restaurant.

Weskoppies Nicholas Ninow Dros Restaurant Rape

Nicholas Ninow (Facebook)

Nicholas Ninow is off for a psychiatric evaluation at Weskoppies after the presiding magistrate in the Dros rape case referred him to the mental hospital on Thursday.

Court has adjourned for the next few weeks, as three separate health professionals are now tasked with assessing the defendant and deciding if he’s fit enough to stand trial. His transfer from prison to the hospital will be completed once a bed is made available at the facility.

Of course, the decision has raised a few issues. So we’re going through the basics ahead of Ninow’s next appearance in front of a judge.

Nicholas Ninow: Questions raised by his switch from a prison cell to a mental hospital:

When will he be back in court again?

Ninow returns to the dock on Tuesday 27 November. It’s likely that the trial could be moved from the Silverton Family Court to the Pretoria High Court by the end of the month, too.

How did the defence secure psychiatric treatment?

Defence lawyer Riaan du Plessis argued that Ninow had an extensive background of mental health issues, citing that he’d been treated for bipolar disorder and substance abuse in the past. In fact, the advocate mentioned that his condition had been worsened by the substance abuse, which he began at age 13.

Is substance abuse ever an excuse?

Given the severity of the crime, we’ve already seen an outcry on social media about tying substance abuse in with child abuse. Some feel that equating the two is extremely unfair.

Whatever Ninow’s issues are, his crime – which he has all but confirmed he carried out – is grotesque, and it needs to be met with a forceful, equitable punishment.

How has the public reacted?

With anger, of course. There’s a lot of fear about this case, as expressed by #NotInMyNameSA. The activists have been very wary that an insanity plea could be on the cards, and Thursday’s decision certainly adds credence to this suggestion.

South Africans have a very clear idea of what justice would be in this case. If Nicholas Ninow was to be found not guilty on the grounds of his mental capacity, it would leave a sour taste in the mouths of the majority. Here’s just a sample of what’s being said on social media, and believe us, we’ve picked the more mild ones:

What is Weskoppies?

It is a psychiatric hospital and mental health clinic, which has been used to house several high-profile defendants awaiting trial. The likes of the Springs Monster and Oscar Pistorius have spent time in Weskoppies, which will ultimately be responsible for determining Ninow’s fitness to stand trial

When will Nicholas Ninow plea?

After three court appearances and two public showings in the dock, we still haven’t heard how he intends to plea. If he’s found to be criminally insane, then a not guilty plea will be entered as soon as possible.

But should his psychiatric evaluation prove he is mentally competent, it’ll be a different ball game. It seems the defence is now shifting to accept that Ninow did carry out this crime. On Thursday, they were very quick to present the mitigating factors as to why anyone would rape a seven-year-old.

Judge Thandi Thelede chose to refer Ninow to Weskoppies, on the grounds that he is able to have his mental state assessed and thus receive a fair trial. It’s absolutely crucial in these cases that a defendant, no matter how heinous, is still allowed their basic human right to an impartial judgement.