Former Bryanston High sports coach acquitted of rape and sexual assault of pupil

A former Bryanston High School sports coach who was fired for allegedly sexually assaulting pupils has been acquitted of the crime.
A former Bryanston High School sports coach who was fired for allegedly sexually assaulting pupils has been acquitted of the crime.
Image: File photo

The court case against a former Bryanston High School sports coach accused of the sexual assault and rape of a former pupil was on Tuesday concluded in the Alexandra magistrate’s court with an acquittal.

The former coach pleaded not guilty to 12 counts which included rape, assault and sexual assault.

The coach was acquitted in terms of a section 174 application made in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act by his legal representative.

The section reads: “An accused may request the magistrate to be discharged, in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, at any trial, if the court is of the opinion there is no evidence the accused committed the offence referred to on the charge sheet.”

The coach’s lawyer made the application last month, arguing the state had failed to provide material evidence to prove his guilt.

However, the Women And Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) group, which supported the former pupil who opened the case against the coach, on Tuesday said the acquittal did not mean the pupil’s version of events was untrue.

“An acquittal does not mean someone is innocent but that the guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” said WMACA spokesperson Ngaa Murombedzi.

“As an organisation we believe a verdict of not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt does not translate into [the coach’s] innocence. It simply means the state could not meet the burden of proof and that is an inherent flaw in the criminal justice system with single victim cases where it is one person’s word against another, as it usually is in sexual assault matters,” said Murombedzi.

Initially, three pupils accused the coach of inappropriate sexual behaviour. This led to the school instituting a disciplinary hearing which led to the dismissal of the coach.

Only one pupil pursued a criminal charge against the former coach.

Murombedzi said: “We cannot overlook the fact that he was found guilty in the SGB [school governing body] disciplinary and dismissed as a result. We understand he is trying to appeal that decision at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.”

The trial against the coach lasted more than two years with many postponements. The victim, her mother, two teachers and a doctor testified in court.

Medical evidence presented in court failed to support the victim’s claims of digital penetration. While the pupil alleged this had happened several times, the doctor who examined her failed to find any evidence of this.

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