Nicholas Ninow, accused of raping a seven-year-old in a Dros restaurant, is due in court this Thursday. But #NotInMyName have their suspicions.
Dros rape accused Nicholas Ninow – who allegedly violated a seven-year-old girl in the Pretoria-based restaurant on in September – is back in court on Thursday, where he is expected to enter his plea.
Activist group #NotInMyNameSA have claimed they now have it “on good authority” that Ninow plans to plead insanity. It’s a decision that has enraged the group, who now believe the defence plan to blame his mother for negligence in an attempt to get Ninow off the hook.
In a strongly-worded statement, NIMNSA says they are crestfallen that the defence is considering this route, and denounced claims that the responsibility lies with someone apart from the perpetrator.
Nicholas Ninow: Could he plead insanity?
The defendant’s plea that has now become the central focus of the story. After causing a legal row, it seems like more blood will be boiled on Tuesday – that’s according to activists #NotInMyNameSA, who suspect that the alleged Dros rapist will attempt to plead insanity.
They released a statement earlier on Friday, demanding that Nicholas Ninow faces the full might of the law. The group “will not accept” a Not Guilty for Reasons of Insanity (NGRI) defence:
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“Following our visit to Dros, a video illustrating the excerpt of the crime was released by the public. In the video, the accused is heard saying ‘I’m a mental man. I’m fucking okay.’ #NotInMyNameSA will not accept the Not Guilty for Reasons of Insanity (NGRI) plea.”
“Paedophilia is gross and despicable, and it would be a travesty of justice if the law was lenient on him under any circumstances. To fail her [the victim] would be to subject her to secondary victimisation.”
Grounds for insanity
But would Nicholas Ninow have a leg to stand on if he entered an NGRI? If the alleged rapist is to plead insanity, he’ll need to have a background of mental illness – as Professor Swanepoel of UNISA explains, medical evidence is crucial in a situation like this:
“The court usually relies on medical evidence. They must also be satisfied there is a reasonable suspicion that the accused lacks the capacity to appreciate the nature of the trial proceedings, or that they can conduct a proper defence – such a capacity to understand can be challenged at any stage of the proceedings.”
What is the definition of being criminally insane?
This is how section 78(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act describes the term. If the defence raises an insanity plea, then the judge has to consider if the suspect is aware of the gravity of the situation or the consequences of their actions:
A person who commits an act which constitutes an offence and who at the time of such commission suffers from a mental illness or mental defect which makes them incapable –
(a) of appreciating the wrongfulness of their act; or
(b) of acting in accordance with an appreciation of the wrongfulness of their act, shall not be criminally responsible for such act.
It’s also worth noting that the burden of proof lies with the defence. No-one who enters a courtroom will be assumed criminally insane. It will be up to the defence to prove he can’t stand trial – should they go that route – rather than the state having to prove he is sane enough.
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