The Springbok Regional Court has sentenced Fernandes Rudolph Damon(42), to life imprisonment after he was convicted on one count of rape and one count of theft.

On the day of the incident 03 June 2020, in Komaggas, a small town on the outskirts of Springbok in the Northern Cape, the 47-year-old victim went to a local shop to withdraw her state grant. After withdrawing R800, she went to the local liquor store where she purchased two bottles of liquor. It was at this time that the accused arrived at the liquor store, took the victim’s alcohol from the counter, and left with it. The victim was not alarmed as she knew the accused as they both reside in Komaggas and the accused used to be friends with her boyfriend. Along the way, the accused met his friend and co-accused, Jason Diergaardt. Jason joined the two, and the three of them walked to a ditch, the complainant was forced to smoke dagga and drink alcohol. Damon began to undress the complainant, whilst he held a knife against her throat.

While undressing the victim, the two accused found R700 on the victim’s before Damon proceeded to rape her, whilst still holding a knife against her throat. When Damon was done, his co-accused Diergaardt took his turn with the complainant. When Diergaardt was done, the two accused left the complainant at the scene and took her belongings with them. The complainant subsequently reported the matter to the police, and both accused were arrested. After a lengthy delay because of Covid, backlog at the Laboratory, and the death of one of the accused, Diergaardt the trial started on 27 November 2023.

During the investigation, it was established that the victim had previously been affected psychologically after she survived a traumatic event which led to her being admitted as a patient suffering from schizophrenia. Due to these developments, she was sent to a Clinical Psychologist for an IQ evaluation. The evaluation concluded that the complainant was functioning on the level of mild intellectual deficit. The psychologist further testified that the complainant was functioning on the level of a child between the ages of 7- 10 years.

Due to her mental state, the Regional Court Prosecutor in this matter, Basil Kock encountered difficulties in consulting with the complainant, but after several consultations, he managed to build a trusting relationship with the complainant. The prosecutor had to work extra hard to build trust with the victim to build the state’s case as she was a single witness to what transpired on the said day.

During the trial, after the state closed its case, the accused opted not to testify, but instead made admissions to the effect that the testimony of the complainant was the truth. The accused admitted to having raped the complainant and stealing her money, her sassa card and cigarettes. He admitted to the roles both he and his co-accused played during the incident. He further agreed with the complainant’s testimony that whilst the matter was pending, he went to the house of the complainant to ask for her forgiveness, but she chased him away.

In aggravation of the sentence, Prosecutor Kock highlighted the seriousness of the offence, the interest of the community as well and the psychological trauma suffered by the complainant. Concerning a suitable sentence the prosecutor, again referred the court to the relevant authorities, requesting the court to find that there are no substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence.

In sentencing the accused, the court agreed with the prosecutor and found that there indeed were no substantial and compelling circumstances for the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence. The accused was sentenced to Life imprisonment for the 1 count of Rape and 12 Months imprisonment for the count of theft. The court ordered that the sentence on the theft charge run concurrently with the sentence of Life imprisonment. The accused was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

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