THE former child minder at Dros in Silverton quit her job months after a 7-year-old girl was raped at the restaurant by self-confessed rapist Nicholas Ninow.
The woman said she quit because she felt she had failed the child. She said what she saw and the words of the victim’s mother following the rape left her unable to work with children again.
State prosecutor Dorah Ngobeni had called the child minder and a waitress on the second day of the trial in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, yesterday.
The first witness said she was working alone in the children's corner on that fateful day.
The minder, who broke down and cried while giving testimony, said she could still not get the images of the day out of her head, especially when thinking back on how she had been watching the girl and her brother the entire time just before she took her lunch break.
She said she was about to go for lunch at 4pm when the child asked to go to the bathroom.
She said she had walked with the child to the female bathroom and proceeded to the back of the restaurant to have her 15-minute break. She had asked staff in the pizza section to watch the play area in her absence.
Upon her return, she said she asked the sibling of his sister’s whereabouts, to which he replied she was still in the toilet.
The mother showed up shortly afterwards, also asking the child’s whereabouts. According to the minder, both she and the girl's brother responded that she had gone to the toilet.
“The mother came back and said she didn’t find the girl in the toilet. She said 'where is my child? I trusted you with my child, where is she?'”
The child minder said she assisted in the search for the child, and they discovered that there was someone locked inside the cubicle.
She said it took five people to push the door open and when it finally opened, Ninow tried to hit them with a belt.
“When the door was opened, the first person I could see was the girl. From what I recall she came in wearing a skirt and tights, but when the bathroom door opened, she was only wearing a skirt.”
She said Ninow was topless, but was wearing trousers with the zip opened.
The visibly upset witness, who was in tears, said she left her job after the incident as she was no longer coping.
She said the mother’s words still haunt her.
“I still can’t believe I was with the child and this happened to her. I quit working at the restaurant because it still upsets me to this day.
Proceedings were adjourned after the witness became emotional in the dock. On his way down the stairs leading to the holding cells, Ninow held the hands of his mother Chantal and grandmother Pauline Gericke, who were in court. He then kissed his mother.
The waitress who helped in pushing the door open also testified that she too quit working at Dros as she could not bear to be there after what happened.
Meanwhile, the now 8-year-old girl at the centre of the rape ordeal will today finally give her own account of what transpired on September 22.
On Monday Ninow’s legal representative Herman Alberts read his statement to the court where he admitted guilt on three of the four charges against him.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, possession of illegal substances and defeating the ends of justice; but not guilty to assault.
According to Ninow, he knew what he was doing when he grabbed the girl who walked in on him as he was hiding in the female bathroom to use the CAT drug he had in his possession.