In a decisive move against gender-based violence (GBV), the Benoni Regional Court sentenced a man to life imprisonment for raping a 5-year-old girl from Etwatwa.
According to Lumka Mahanjana, NPA regional spokesperson, the 36-year-old man stayed in a shack behind the victim’s family house, offered shelter by the minor’s mother when he was homeless.
The incident occurred on July 2, 2019. The mother was absent from home. The man lured the victim and her six-year-old cousin to his shack. He undressed and raped the young child while her cousin stood at the door, refusing his advances.
Upon the mother’s return, the cousin reported the horrific incident, leading to the mother seeking medical attention for the minor. A medical examination confirmed the child had indeed been raped. The mother immediately reported the matter to the police. Authorities arrested the man on July 6, 2019. He has remained incarcerated since then.
The accused pleaded not guilty. He sought a deviation from the minimum sentence, citing his responsibility to care for his two teenage children, aged 16 and 18. However, his plea was brushed aside as prosecutor Refiloe Neluonde presented a victim impact statement prepared by a social worker, underscoring the significant trauma endured by the child.
The court noted that the mother had even taken down the shack where the incident occurred to spare her child from further distress.
Magistrate Bettina Pulane Maredi concurred with the prosecution, stressing the severity of gender-based violence, a scourge that continues to afflict women and children in South Africa. Maredi found no compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed sentence, highlighting the constitutional rights of women and children to human dignity and bodily integrity.
In addition to the life sentence, Magistrate Maredi ordered that the man’s name go on the national register for sexual offenders.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, praised the court’s decision and expressed hope that it will serve as an unwavering message that crimes against children and women will face persistent action by the judicial system. He commended the efforts of the prosecutor and the investigation officer, Sergeant Kaizer Mbele, for their pivotal roles in securing the conviction and sentencing.
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