Psychiatrist faces rape charges in High Court
By Werner Menges
May 28, 2018

Psychiatrist Pieter van der Westhuizen

Psychiatrist Pieter van der Westhuizen

A PSYCHIATRIST accused of having drugged and raped one of his patients at Swakopmund in November 2015 has made a first pretrial appearance in the Windhoek High Court, where he is due to stand trial on five charges.

Pieter van der Westhuizen had a first pretrial hearing before judge Christie Liebenberg on Thursday last week, following the transfer of his case from the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court to the High Court in Windhoek.

Van der Westhuizen (61) has been indicted on five charges in connection with an alleged sexual assault on a patient of his at Swakopmund on 7 November 2015. He is charged with three counts of rape, one charge of indecent assault, and one count of attempted murder, alternatively using drugs to overpower or stupefy a woman in order to have unlawful intercourse with her.

The pretrial hearing before judge Liebenberg was over in minutes, with Van der Westhuizen’s case being postponed to 21 June to give his team of defence lawyers time to prepare a reply to a list of questions through which the prosecution wants to be informed how Van der Westhuizen is going to respond to the charges, and what arrangements should be made for his trial.

On advice from his defence lawyers, who complained that all the evidence in his case had not been disclosed to them at that stage, Van der Westhuizen declined to give a plea to the charges during an appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court in March this year.

The prosecutor general thereafter decided to indict him in the Windhoek High Court.

The state is alleging that Van der Westhuizen, a South African citizen practising as a psychiatrist at Swakopmund, arranged with a female patient to visit his consulting rooms for a procedure to be carried out on 7 November 2015. Van der Westhuizen allegedly also prescribed medication to the patient, and instructed her to take the medication on the morning before her consultation with him.

After taking the prescribed tablets, the patient allegedly had a panic attack and had to be rushed to his consulting rooms, where she was given more medication, and a friend of the patient was told to leave her with Van der Westhuizen, who promised to call the friend after the procedure.

The state is alleging that Van der Westhuizen gave the patient an overdose of the tranquilisers Valium and Ativan, and of Ritalin, which is a central nervous system stimulant, and indecently assaulted and raped her while she was alone with him at his practice.

A year passed following the alleged incident, before Van der Westhuizen was charged in November 2016. He was released on bail of N$10 000 after making his first appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court on 17 November 2016.

Van der Westhuizen was represented by a team of lawyers, consisting of Cape Town-based defence counsel Graham van der Spuy, Pretoria attorney Gerhardt van der Merwe, and legal practitioner Shane Morwe, with his appearance in the High Court on Thursday.

The state was represented by deputy prosecutor general Innocentia Nyoni.


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Pieter van der Westhuizen