The Strand Regional Court has sentenced Abongile Mhlaba, to 25 years of direct imprisonment and ordered that he serve two-thirds of his sentence before he is considered for parole. The court also ordered his name be entered into the National Register of Sex Offenders.

Mhlaba, 35, was convicted for the rape of a 7-year-old neighbour’s daughter after he entered a plea and sentencing agreement with the State. Part of his sentence is that he is declared unfit to possess a firearm.

In his plea and sentencing agreement, he confesses that he was in his residence in Phikelela Street, Asanda Village, Strand, when he heard his neighbour’s daughter playing outside. He knew she was 7 years old and called her with a promise of giving her chips. He had given children in the street chips and sweets on previous occasions. The victim unsuspectingly entered his residence to collect the chips. After she entered, he locked the door and threw her on his bed.

He undressed her and raped her. She attempted to scream but he closed her mouth with his hand. She continued fighting him off, kicked him off her, unlocked the door and ran away. He did not see her the following and later heard that she had moved to her mother in Darling.

He was arrested in 2021 when the victim disclosed to her cousin that he had raped her. He admits that he knew his actions were wrongful and punishable. The State argued that he exploited her trust, vulnerability, and innocence, the offence he committed is serious and women and children are regarded as vulnerable entities in the community and should be protected. The court should send out a strong message that people like him will be harshly dealt with. There were substantial and compelling circumstances which justify a sentence other than the minimum prescribed sentence. They include that he pleaded guilty sparing the victim from victimization due to a protracted trial. He has been in custody since his arrest on 27 July 2021, and the victim and her mother are satisfied with the proposed sentence in this agreement.

The NPA welcomes the sentence.

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