Notorious Swakopmund psychiatrist behind bars again

Niël TerbLanché

Pieter van der Westhuizen, 67, a Swakopmund-based psychiatrist was arrested at the start of this week on Gender-Based Violence charges after he viciously attacked his wife in the Ocean View home on Sunday.

Van der Westhuizen rose to infamy during a trial where he stood accused of raping one of his female patients on the premises of his practice on 7 November 2015 while she was heavily sedated with psychotropic drugs.

Besides three counts of rape, Van der Westhuizen also faced an attempted murder charge with the alternative charge of using drugs to overpower a woman so that he could have unlawful intercourse with her.

High Court Judge, Eileen Rakow eventually acquitted the psychiatrist on all charges in November 2021.

In her judgement, Judge Rakow found that there was no evidence before the court on which Van der Westhuizen could be convicted. The court ruled that medical witnesses testified that the victim’s allegations could have been the result of false memories.

Van der Westhuizen’s legal representatives argued that he had erectile dysfunction in 2015 and it would not have been possible for him to have penetrative intercourse at the time of the incident in his consulting rooms.

The State appealed the ruling and applied for leave to approach the Supreme Court with an appeal.

At the time, state prosecutors were of the view that the judge misdirected herself when she acquitted Van der Westhuizen on all charges, despite them arguing that they did indeed present a strong prima facie case against him.

Judge Rakow dismissed the application for leave to appeal early in December 2021.

Van der Westhuizen appeared in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court earlier this week on charges related to Gender-Based Violence as read with the Domestic Violence Act.

He was arrested on Sunday after he allegedly assaulted his 52-year-old wife during an argument at their home in the Ocean View Neighbourhood of Swakopmund.

Inspector Ileni Shapumba, the head of the Community Affairs Division of the Namibian Police in the Erongo Region, confirmed the arrest of the psychiatrist earlier this week and added that the suspect also used pepper spray during the attack on his wife.

“He did make a first appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court on the domestic violence charges,” Shapumba said.

During his first appearance on the domestic violence charges, the court decided to deny Van der Westhuizen bail and he was remanded in the custody of the Namibian Police.

He married the victim in June 2022, about six months after he was acquitted of the rape and attempted murder charges in the High Court of Namibia.

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