The Springs Regional Court sentenced an illegal Lesotho national, Thabo Kgwete (34) to life imprisonment for rape of an 8-year-old child. He was also given two years direct imprisonment for being illegal in the country. The Magistrate, Nkhesani Moila ordered that his name be added on the national registers for sexual offenders, and he be declared unfit to work with children or possess a firearm and that he should be deported to the country of his origin after serving his sentence.

Kgwete was employed as a security guard at the flats where the child was residing with her father and stepmother. In the evening of 26 February 2023, the stepmother was having a birthday party celebration at her flat on the 2nd floor. The child then went with her siblings to play on the 1st floor where Kgwetes flat was. After some time, the siblings left her playing with her phone. Kgwete then approached, grabbed and dragged her to his flat where he undressed and raped her after he let her go.

The following day the stepmother noticed that the child was not ok, when she asked, the child told her what had happened the previous night. They then reported the matter to the police and kgwete was arrested same day and has been in custody since after the NPA successfully opposed bail.

In court Kgwete pleaded guilty only to the charge of being illegal in the country but denied raping the child and said he was not at his place the day of the incident. Through his attorney he asked the court to be lenient when imposing a sentence. However, prosecutor Salesah Phahlamohlaka was able to deduce evidence that proved that indeed Kgwete raped the child.

In aggravation, Phahlamohlaka told the court that Kgwete committed a serious offence towards a minor child that was known to him, furthermore Kgwete robbed the child an opportunity to explore her sexuality and womanhood. She asked the court not to deviate from imposing the prescribed sentence. Phahlamohlaka also handed in a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) facilitated by the Court Preparation Offer, Nomfundo Masondo where the child and the mother stated how the rape has affected the child emotionally and how the mother is now dealing with a child that is withdrawn because of the incident.

When handing down the sentence, the magistrate agreed with the state that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the personal circumstances of the man and that it was the duty of the court to protect the most vulnerable in the society which are children and women. She said the child’s life will never be the same after the rape. The man used his position of power to rape the child and thought he was going to get away with it, she added and found no substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed sentence.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi welcomes the sentence and applauds the work of the prosecutor and investigating offer Warrant officer, Majakate Simon Phala. He also hopes that the sentence will send a strong message that crimes against the most vulnerable groups will not be tolerated.

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