Johannesburg: A South African court on Wednesday temporarily abandoned a rape case against the grandson of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela after the prosecution brought an application to “provisionally withdraw prosecution.”
The 25-year-old was accused of raping an underage girl at a pub in Johannesburg last year.
Under South African law, a suspect’s identity cannot be revealed until the accused pleads to the charge.
The National Prosecuting Authority said withdrawing the case for now was in the best interest of the trial as they were probing new evidence linked to the case.
“We have now obtained new information that requires further investigation,” prosecution spokeswoman Phindi Louw told journalists. Louw said withdrawing the case did not mean that the accused was “off the hook”. “The charge could be reinstated at a later stage, pending our investigation,” she said.
According to the prosecutor, the 15-year-old complainant was said to be “seeking mechanisms to cope with the trial.” Mandela’s lawyer had previously argued that the sex was consensual and that the girl was 16 years old, the legal age for consensual sex.
The icon’s grandson was arrested in August 2015, and spent 10 days in custody before being freed on bail.
He is the latest Mandela family member to be embroiled in legal trouble likely to tarnish their name.
Several Mandela family members were in court to support the man who appeared relieved after the magistrate’s ruling.