FRANCISTOWN: In a bizarre incident, a man who is believed to be mentally unsound appeared before Justice Bengbame Sechele on Wednesday for a ruling concerning allegations that he allegedly raped his biological daughter.
The man, who cannot be named for ethical reasons, allegedly raped his then 12-year-old daughter on April 1 last year at Gumare in the North West District.
However, the case did not progress as planned after a magistrate who handled it at Gumare referred it to the High Court for ruling.
Justice Sechele said there were glaring irregularities relating to how the accused was referred for psychiatric examination and how the case was handled at the magistrate’s court.
Sechele said the record of proceedings from the court a quo (lower court that presided over the matter) shows that the accused was sent for psychiatric evaluation on the orders of the station commander of Gumare police.
Sechele said that according to the findings of the psychiatric expert, the accused told the expert that in 1997, a person emerged from the ground and told him to commit suicide but he did not listen to that instruction.
The judge added that procedurally and legally, the only competent authorities who are supposed to refer accused persons for psychiatric evaluation were the magistrates and High Court judges not the police.
“Sending people for psychiatric evaluation is exclusively the purview of magistrates and judges not police officers… The prosecutor who handled the case expressed doubt about the competency of the psychiatric expert who examined the accused,” said Sechele said.
“The psychiatric expert has 40 years experience in the field. The prosecutor was of the view that the accused is mentally sound while the expert said that his findings shows that he was mentally unsound.”
Sechele added that after carefully analysing the evidence before him, he was left with no choice but to accept the findings of the psychiatric expert who examined the accused.
“The accused is fit to take plea and defend his alleged actions during trial… I also order that the matter shall be referred back to the magistrate to be dealt with according to the law, the matter shall be dealt with by the magistrate court according to Section 158 of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act to determine if the accused was of sound or unsound mind not at the time of the commission of the offence.”
Sechele also made an order that the accused’s remand warrant be further extended adding that the accused should be incarcerated at Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital until the matter is finalised.