An uncle who raped his niece on numerous occasions between the years 1992 to 1994, has been found guilty by the Mothibistad Regional Court, and sentenced to 18 years of direct imprisonment. The Accused was charged with two counts of rape under the common law. The State alleges that the accused raped his niece (his wife’s sister’s daughter) who was 16 years old during the commission of the offence, in February 1992, and then on numerous occasions between 1992-1994.

The circumstances surrounding the rapes were as follows: the accused (a 32-year-old teacher at the time) was living in a school hostel in Mothibistad, with his wife, baby daughter and the victim. The accused first raped the victim in her bedroom in February 1992, when the victim one night woke up to find a pillow covering her face and the accused raped her. Following the first rape incident, the accused took advantage of the times when the wife was not at home and would rape the victim in the same manner. The accused would also on occasion make up excuses, as to why the victim needed to accompany him and would rape her at the building site of his new home. From the rapes, a child was born in 1995, and thereafter various family meetings were held, where the victim was urged to keep “family secrets” and not to tell anyone of the rapes, as it would prejudice the accused and his wife’s careers. The victim only dared to report the rapes to the police in 2017, and after intensive and rigorous investigations by the police, the accused was arrested.

During the trial, the court heard how the accused during one of the rape incidents had told the victim to “keep her little mouth shut” about the rapes and how he threatened her that he “prayed very hard and that she would be killed by God” if she says anything. He also further urged the victim to read Proverbs 4:4 (to listen to her elders, lest God punishes you) as part of threatening the victim to never report his crimes.

In aggravation of sentence, the State Prosecutor Bernice Bronkhorst argued that in light of the serious nature of the offences in the circumstances of the case as well as the irreparable psychological harm of the rapes on the victim, deterrence of would-be offenders, as well as the retribution for the victim’s harm, outweigh the personal circumstances of the accused. Further that his age of 64 years, was a non-factor in the court’s sentencing consideration, and that the court should sentence the accused to a maximum sentence applicable for such a crime. In sentencing, the accused was found guilty of both counts of rape, and the court from the lengthy testimony of the victim adduced that she was raped at least 15 times by the accused in the period 1992-1995. The accused was sentenced to 8 years of direct imprisonment on count one and 10 years of direct imprisonment on count two. The sentences are to run consecutively (one after the other).

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomes the sentence and lauds the work of the prosecution team and the Police, who ensured that even if the crimes were committed 30 years ago, justice was served. The Prosecuting Authority envisage that this sentence will send a clear message to other perpetrators of GBVF, that justice does not have an expiry date, they will be caught and prosecuted with fear, favour, or prejudice.

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