Craig Peiser declared unfit to stand trial after assault on eNCA journalist
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Cape Town - The man accused of assaulting eNCA journalist Monique Mortlock has been declared unfit to stand trial and has been admitted to Valkenberg Hospital.
Craig Peiser, head organiser of the We Are More (WAM) movement, was arrested for assault and contravening the country's Covid-19 regulations during a weekend protest on February 6. He was accused of ripping the mask off Mortlock’s face.
After his arrest, Peiser appeared in Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court the following Monday where he was rambling and yelling in court, which resulted in the magistrate remanding him in custody.
The accused was first referred to the district surgeon for assessment, before he was referred to the psychiatric hospital for observation.
Peiser’s case was postponed until Friday.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said: “The accused has been declared unfit to stand trial and has been admitted to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital.
“This follows a psychiatric report authored by Professor Sean Kaliski. He is going to be treated as a involuntary mental health care user.
“Based on the report, the court also found that he didn't have criminal capacity when the incidents happened. He couldn't distinguish between right and wrong,” he said.
Mortlock has posted about the assault on Twitter: “The head organiser approached us and asked us if we are from the media, and we said, yes, we’d like to interview you. He then said he can’t hear me. I spoke louder.
We are on Fish Hoek Beach to cover the #WeAreMore protest against lockdown. But one of the organisers just assaulted me, even with officers around us. He refuses to speak to me because I'm wearing a mask. @eNCA pic.twitter.com/BYx991Qmd0— Monique Mortlock (@MoniqueMortlock) February 6, 2021
“He then said he can’t speak to people who wear masks. We told him that it is the law, we have to wear masks. He goes on to pull my mask, from my face, and rips it off.
“I am completely shocked. Police officers are around, law enforcement is around, some kind residents from Fish Hoek were also around here to shout at him, and basically to tell him ’you can’t do this’. I cried cause it was unexpected.”
Prior to his first appearance, Peiser addressed the media where he apologised to Mortlock and said that he did not intend to offend, assault or insult her.