South Africans were left feeling apoplectic when a video of a caregiver assaulting a toddler at a Carletonville crèche went viral last week. The Gauteng-based nursery has since been shut down and the abuser is heading for a court date on Tuesday 7 May.
Who is the Carletonville crèche abuser?
Local education authorities acted swiftly when the footage made its way to social media on Thursday. Within hours of Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi vowing to find the heavy-handed criminal, a woman had been arrested and charged in a nearby magistrate’s court. However, the natural course of the law isn’t enough for some people.
The suspect’s name has been leaked online, as have her personal details. In the advent of social media, this information has been shared all across the country. That’s a massive legal headache for the prosecution…
Why naming the abuser is illegal… for now
For a start, the woman cannot be identified before she has entered a plea or an explanation of her actions. That is likely to come at her upcoming appearance in the dock next month. Secondly, her crime involves a young and vulnerable child – identifying the perpetrator could indirectly lead to the child losing their anonymity, too.
The more direct threats are made against the woman in the public eye, the harder it will be for the courts to grant her the right to a fair trial. Finally, it is also imperative that you avoid naming the actual nursery. Vague details are acceptable from a reporting perspective, but sharing the actual location poses a risk for children and teachers alike.
Posting any of this information to your social media feeds or publicly distributing it via a “retweet” or a “share” constitutes a criminal offence.
Hallmarks of Nicholas Ninow restrictions
In fact, the Carletonville crèche case mirrors that of alleged Dros rapist Nicholas Ninow, where strict reporting laws also dominated his coverage in the media.
Technically speaking, the man accused of raping a seven-year-old girl in a Pretoria restaurant wouldn’t have been named under normal circumstances – he is yet to plea and the defence haven’t offered a concrete explanation for his behaviour that day.
It took NPA intervention to lift the restrictions back in October, but this came only after Ninow’s name, age and background were shared online. Thankfully, this has not derailed the case, which resumes in September.
Avoid sharing personal details of Carletonville crèche suspect
If you do come across details Carletonville crèche offender, resist the temptation to share them. Not only does it put you in a legal grey area, but you are at serious risk of impairing the dignity of a young child. No-one wants that on their conscience, and the law must be allowed to run its course.