Doctor found guilty of hospital rape

Dennis Noa

More than two and a half years of being free on bail came to an end for medical doctor Dennis Noa yesterday, after he was found guilty of raping a patient at a Windhoek hospital in April 2021.

Windhoek Regional Court magistrate Victor Nyazo cancelled Noa’s bail after convicting him on a charge of rape involving an 18-year-old patient who was receiving treatment at Katutura Intermediate Hospital following a road accident in which he had suffered a severe head injury.

In the judgement in which he found Noa (29) guilty, Nyazo noted that Noa was the last person known to have come into contact with the patient before injuries were observed in the patient’s anal area.

The magistrate also noted that no one knew or saw the hospital porter that Noa said he had given the patient to, and from whom he later received the patient back, on 11 April 2021. Nyazo concluded that Noa was the only person who had a window of opportunity to sexually violate the patient.

Noa denied guilt when his trial started before Nyazo in the Windhoek Regional Court in April last year.

Noa, who was an intern doctor at the hospital before his arrest on 12 April 2021, told the court he referred the patient for occupational therapy. He said on 11 April 2021 – which was a Sunday – he noticed that the patient had not had the prescribed therapy yet, and then decided that he should be taken to have the therapy done that day. Noa said he at first tried to contact hospital porters by telephone to ask them to take the patient to see an occupational therapist, but could not get hold of a porter.

He then decided to take the patient to an occupational therapist himself, he said.

After he had moved the patient on his bed out of the head injury ward,where he was hospitalised, he found a porter to whom he gave the patient, Noa said.

He later found the porter with the patient outside the head injury ward, and took the patient from him and returned him to the ward, Noa said. When a physiotherapist went to see the patient early that afternoon, he noticed that the patient was lying on his side and not on his back as usual, and found an unused condom in its wrapper and paper towels lying next to the patient, the court heard.

Observing that the patient’s anus was swollen and injured, the physiotherapist alerted nurses in the ward that he suspected the patient had been sexually violated.

The court heard during the trial that the hospital’s occupational therapy department was not working over weekends and on public holidays, and that the standard procedure was that head injury patients received occupational and physiotherapy in the ward itself.

A senior doctor also told the court Noa was aware that the protocol was that patients in the head injury ward received occupational and physiotherapy in the ward. Nyazo recounted in his judgement that according to a fellow doctor, she saw Noa with the patient near elevators in the hospital, and she told him that the hospital occupational therapists were not working on a Sunday.

She also told the court she saw Noa pushing the patient’s bed into a conference room near the elevators.

According to Noa, he had gone into the conference room for a couple of minutes to collect books and a bag that he had left there earlier. Nyazo noted that during his colleague’s testimony, her version that she had seen Noa pushing the patient into the conference room was not disputed.

However, when Noa was cross-examined during his testimony, he said he did not take the patient into the conference room and that he left the patient outside, in his sight, when he went into the room to collect his belongings.

His colleague’s testimony placed Noa with the patient inside the conference room, Nyazo remarked.

He also noted that according to the evidence before the court no injuries on the patient’s anal area were observed when he was washed in the morning.

Having announced his verdict, Nyazo added that Noa’s bail was being cancelled and that he should be held in custody until he has to return to court.

Noa spent nearly three months in custody following his arrest, before he was released on bail in an amount of N$10 000. He has to return to court for presentence proceedings on 20 February.

Noa is being represented by defence lawyers James Diedericks and McLeod-Janser. State advocate Palmer Kumalo is prosecuting.

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