The Durban Regional Court has sentenced a 44-year-old man, to two terms of life imprisonment for the rape (more than once) of a 40-year-old woman, in the Durban area in August 2017. The accused lived on the same property as the complainant who was mentally disabled, and their families were well known to each other. On the day of the incident, the complainant was alone at home when the accused gained access to her family’s premises and raped her, covering her mouth so that she wouldn’t scream. Her brother walked in on them, and the accused ran away. The complainant was taken to the Phoenix Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC), where she received the necessary support.

In court, the accused pleaded not guilty claiming that he did not know that the complainant was mentally disabled and that she had agreed to have sexual intercourse with him. In the state’s case Adv. Cheryl Reddy led the testimonies of the complainant, her mother, her brother (the eyewitness), a psychologist and the doctor from the TCC. The psychologist who assessed the complainant concluded that she was childlike and that she could not understand the consequences of sex and therefore she could not consent to sexual intercourse. In addition to being an eyewitness to the offence, the complainant’s brother told the court that the accused was well known to them. The state arranged for the complainant to testify with the assistance of a specialist intermediary, who worked with mentally disabled people. The complainant confirmed the state’s case, adding that the accused had raped her on a previous occasion.

The sentences will run concurrently, resulting in the effective sentence of life imprisonment. In addition, the court declared the accused unfit to possess a firearm and ordered that his name be entered into the National Register for Sex Offenders. The NPA welcomes the sentence, and we hope that sentences of this nature will deter like-minded individuals. Our mandate is to prosecute cases on behalf of the victims of crime successfully.

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