Rapist’s father says sorry

2009-09-03 00:00

WHEN Scottsville rapist Sanele Nhlakanipho Shezi gets out of jail, he will be at least 41 years old.

This is the effect of an order by Judge Achmat Jappie that he must serve at least 20 years of his effective 35-year prison sentence before he may apply for parole.

Only the pleas of his father, Thabani Shezi, who publicly apologised to the victim on behalf of his family yesterday, saved Shezi from a life term.

The judge said it was only Thabani Shezi’s intervention on his son’s behalf that persuaded him that there was any prospect for Shezi’s future rehabilitation.

The rape complainant was tearful after sentencing and said she did not really take note of what Shezi’s father said, but she believed that the court had done its duty. Most of all she wished to thank the police and prosecutors and the public who supported her throughout her ordeal.

A male friend, however, was not as forgiving and said it should be pointed out that a woman is scarred for life by rape and that no sentence can give her her life back.

Judge Jappie told Shezi that what he did was “every woman’s worst nightmare”, and perpetrators like him “deserve the most severe punishment that the law allows”.

He invaded the complainant’s home, violated her person and robbed her “in the most heinous manner”. He committed multiple acts of rape and sexual assault.

The judge said it was clear that Shezi comes from a stable family background, that he was offered every opportunity to improve, that he squandered whatever his family did for him and instead chose a career in crime.

“Personally, I have very little sympathy for you,” the judge said.

He said he did not believe Shezi’s explanation that he was under the influence of intoxicating drugs or substances and said his conduct during the rape ordeal showed he was in his full sound and sober senses. He behaved in a deliberate manner and had the sense to be aware that forensic evidence could link him to the crimes and so he tried to obliterate it.

The court heard that Shezi was studying office administration at an FET college when he committed the crimes. He has a previous conviction for robbery with aggravating circumstances in 2005 for which he was given a six-year suspended jail sentence.

“On behalf of my family I want to say to the complainant that we are very sorry for what my son did. We feel he deserves to be punished for it and we hope that this will serve as a lesson to him and others,” Thabani Shezi said.

Shezi said he did “not have the guts” to apologise to the complainant in person, and took the opportunity in court to do so.

“… I once had a dream that he [Sanele] would become a prominent person in life. But unfortunately there was this behaviour and friends he was going with … As I see it his future is now in his hands and with this court,” he said.

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