A 44-year-old stepfather has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Galeshewe Regional Court after he was convicted on one count of rape as well as one count of attempted rape of his stepdaughter. In 2017, when the victim was 14 years old, and in Grade 8 the accused who was residing with the victim and her mother, began raping the child. At the time, the accused was also working as a Church Pastor and had 14 years of experience in the Ministry. For a year, the victim continued to abuse without the victim until 2018, when the victim decided to inform her mother about the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her stepfather. What made the victim suffer in silence for a year was that she was afraid to speak up because the accused had also abused her mother and herself physically. Unfortunately, when she finally informed her mother, she did not believe her that the accused had raped her.

When the accused raped her again, she informed her mother again and her mother suggested a family meeting to be held to “ sort “ this out with the accused family. The family meeting was held but the accused still proceeded to sexually abuse the victim unabated. In 2020 the accused attempted to rape the victim again, but her mother the accused wife walked into the room and the accused acted as if he was checking up on the victim and her siblings in the room. The wife noticed that the accused was naked, and she questioned him as to why he had no clothes on and in the children’s room. It was only at this stage that the mother believed the story the victim told her in 2018 and they immediately went to the police station to open a case of rape against the accused. The accused was arrested and charged with one count of rape as well as one count of attempted rape. In court, the accused pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence when the charges were presented to him at the commencement of his trial.

The Regional Court Prosecutor Advocate Shareen Theresa Links for the prosecution argued during the trial that the accused was not remorseful even when presented with overwhelming evidence. That the accused breached the trust and innocence of a minor who viewed him as her father. Through the Victim Impact Statements compiled with the assistance of Court Preparation Officer Ms Thandi Diphae, the court heard how because of the abuse she had suffered from the accused and her mother not believing her she started to act up and her schoolwork suffered as a result. That she felt betrayed by those who were supposed to be her protectors.

In aggravation of sentence, the prosecutor put it to the court that the only sentence suitable for justice for the victim would be life imprisonment sentence. The State further argued that the accused did not provide or prove any substantial or compelling circumstances for the court to deviate from the minimum sentence. In sentencing the court agreed with the state’s aggravating argument, that the accused showed no remorse, he broke the trust of a child who looked up to him as a father and Pastor. The accused was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on a count of rape and 10 years imprisonment for attempted rape. The court ordered that his name be included in the Register of Sexu. The accused was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

The National Prosecuting Authority commends the stellar work of the prosecutors and police in ensuring that another victim of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide is protected from the abuser, by ensuring that the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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