The High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division, sitting in Mthatha, 58-year-old former Department of Education Subject Advisor, Louis Pepping, to life imprisonment for raping a six-year-old girl. Pepping is currently serving a four-year imprisonment term for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old learner in June 2021, while out on bail. Delivering judgement, Acting Judge, Mvuzo Notyesi, agreed with the Senior State Advocate, Mbulelo Nyendwana, that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence of life for raping a minor.

On 01 September 2019, the victim was sent to buy chips at a Spaza Shop near her home in Ngobozana Locality in the district of Lusikisiki. When she did not return as expected, her siblings were asked to go look for her as it was getting dark. After a while, the victim’s grandmother joined the search and found the victim with one of her siblings. She noticed that the victim was shivering and bleeding from her private part.

The victim led her grandmother, together with some members of the community, to the house belonging to Pepping, and identified him as the person who had grabbed her from the street and raped her in his room. Community members assaulted Pepping until he was rescued by the local traditional leader, who summoned the police. The victim was taken to the St. Elizabeth Hospital Thuthuzela Care Centre, where she was examined before being transferred to Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, due to the severity of her injuries. A sheet with blood stains and DNA were retrieved from Pepping’s room. He was immediately arrested and taken to hospital as he had sustained injuries from being assaulted by community members.

Noting that Pepping never showed any remorse, the court was not impressed by the evidence presented in the mitigation of the sentence, that he was a church elder and has four children, whose names he does not even know. It concurred with the prosecution that Pepping is a highly educated man who should have known better. The court ordered that his name be entered into the national register of sex offenders.

Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Barry Madolo, noted that this successful prosecution of this case signifies the importance of the collaborative role the community, police and the prosecution should play in ensuring that justice is served, more especially for the vulnerable and defenceless children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *