Durban -

The trial of a South Coast principal who is accused of raping pupils at his school resumed in the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Desmond Peter Makhanya, who is currently suspended by the Education Department, has been charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual assault.

Despite the media asking the magistrate and prosecutor for permission to attend the trial on Tuesday, it was held in camera because prosecutor Pratisha Jugnandan said the witness was too traumatised to testify in an open courtroom.

The attorney for Makhanya, Anand Nepaul, was expected to make an application to have the witness, who is now over 18, testify without an intermediary because she was no longer a minor.

The Criminal Procedure Act states that an intermediary can only be used if someone is “biologically or mentally” under 18.

It involves children and sexual abuse victims testifying using a third party through a video link or a one-way mirror from another room, to avoid facing their alleged attacker.

Independent forensic pathologist Reggie Perumal was also in court and appeared to be assisting the defence.

Makhanya, 45, was arrested at a secondary school in November 2012.

This came after a group of girls approached police officers who were visiting their school during an outreach programme. They said Makhanya lured them into his office to clean, or on the pretext that he would give them extra lessons, and molested them.

But Makhanya has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

He said the children who filed the charges were being used by teachers and parents in a “smear campaign” to discredit him and oust him from his post. Makhanya’s supporters and family of the victims were upset when they were told they would not be allowed inside the court.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

Makhanya is out on bail.

The Mercury