Setback for state in doctor’s rape trial
By Werner Menges
November 19, 2020
Pieter van der Westhuizen – Psychiatrist
THE state will not be permitted to call a second woman who claims to have been raped by a Swakopmund-based psychiatrist as a witness in his current trial.
In the state’s application to be allowed to present testimony from the woman to the court, it did not show that the accused in the trial, medical specialist Pieter van der Westhuizen, would not be prejudiced by her evidence and that the value of her evidence would not be overshadowed by the danger of unfair prejudice to him, judge Eileen Rakow said in a ruling delivered in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.
She also remarked that allowing the prosecution to present the witness’ testimony to the court would cause an excessive delay and waste time in Van der Westhuizen’s trial.
The state applied to be allowed to present the witness’ testimony to the court after she approached the police last year, following the start of Van der Westhuizen’s trial, to allege that he raped her in July 2015.
The prosecutors representing the state in the trial informed the court they wanted to call the woman as a witness because her testimony was relevant to Van der Westhuizen’s claim that he suffers from erectile dysfunction and has not been able to have penetrative intercourse since about 2010.
Van der Westhuizen (64) is being prosecuted on three counts of rape, a charge of indecent assault and a charge of attempted murder, alternatively using drugs to overpower a woman so that he could have unlawful intercourse with her, in connection with allegations that he raped one of his female patients at his consulting rooms at Swakopmund on 7 November 2015.
He denied guilt on all charges when his trial started on 1 July last year.
In a lengthy written statement given to the judge after he gave his pleas on the charges, Van der Westhuizen claimed the complainant in the case acquired “a false memory of indecent assault and rape” as a result of a past experience of childhood sexual abuse, combined with the effect of medication which she took before and during her visit to his consulting rooms on 7 November 2015. He also claimed in his plea explanation that he was suffering from erectile dysfunction.
“I have not been able to have penetrative sexual intercourse since approximately 2010,” Van der Westhuizen stated.
State advocate Felistas Shikerete-Vendura informed the judge after the delivery of her ruling that the prosecution is likely to now close its case in the trial. The defence plans to apply for Van der Westhuizen’s acquittal, senior counsel Stephen Farrell indicated.
The trial is due to continue today.