A Dutch national Jan Willem Akstar on Thursday appeared before the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court in a case in which he faces nine charges of sexual abuse and sodomy.
He is accused of molesting students and employees at Timotheos Foundation.
Akstar, 49, who was working as financial manager at the orphanage based in Mapanga, Blantyre, is alleged to have committed the crimes early this year.
Timotheos Foundation offers a bursary scheme by paying school fees for needy students. Akstar is alleged to have been taking advantage of this scheme to force himself on beneficiaries.
Lawyer representing the prosecution, Victor Jere, said there are nine alleged victims expected to present their evidence, adding that six are students, including one from a public university while three are employees at the orphanage.
He said in an interview outside the court that on the first day of hearing on Thursday, defence lawyer Fostino Yankho Maele applied to the court to discharge the case, arguing that only a maximum of six people should be allowed as per requirement.
Jere also said the defence argued that the charges were based on Section 153 of the Penal Code which is unconstitutional because it amounts to a violation of Akstar’s privacy, dignity and non-discrimination based on sex.
However, Jere said the prosecution countered that the argument adopted by Akster’s defence—that discussing his client’s sexual activities is violation of privacy—is a common tactic by sexual offenders involved in homosexual relationships.
“In a nutshell, the defence is saying we cannot discuss Akstar’s sexual offences committed against the students because he was in a homosexual relationship with the victims. But this is wrong in interpretation of the case at hand. The case at hand is not about two consenting male adults in a homosexual relationship. It is not about same sex relationships. It is not.
“We have told the court that the case brought before it is a case of one perpetrator forcing himself on unsuspecting and vulnerable victims against their will,” he said.
The court is expected to make its preliminary ruling on the objections in the next two weeks before Akstar takes plea and witnesses are called to present their testimonies before the court.