Sex abuser avoids jail

2009-10-09 00:00

A PRETORIA man who was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment for the indecent assaults of his landlord’s three daughters aged 6,7 and 11 in Durban was yesterday granted a reprieve.

Judges of appeal in the high court in Pietermaritzburg ordered him to undergo five years under correctional supervision.

Judge Trevor Gorven with Judge Kevin Swain concurring further imposed a five-year suspended sentence on Willem Abraham de Klerk (39) on condition he is not convicted again of rape or indecent assault.

The conditions for correctional supervision include an order that, taking account of his work, De Klerk be placed under house arrest for the five years.

The judges also ordered that he do 16 hours of community service each month. He was also ordered to attend an “orientation and drug information programme”, a sexual offenders’ programme and other programmes aimed at improving his “problem areas”, to consult people who can treat his depression and to consult a clinical psychologist.

State advocate Candy Kander termed the acts De Klerk performed on his young victims “serious, perverse, invasive and depraved”.

She said the offences were committed shortly before the New Sexual Offences Act came into force on December 16, 2007, which means De Klerk’s conduct were viewed as rape and not the lesser crime of indecent assault.

In their reserved judgment yesterday, the judges agreed that De Klerk committed “heinous crimes on vulnerable young girls who had been left in his care”. They said the crimes are abhorrent and the trial magistrate in Durban was entirely correct to emphasise how serious they were. However, they found that the magistrate had misdirected himself in that he clearly believed a “non-custodial sentence equated to a lenient sentence” and that he had not considered other deterrents besides jail.

Judge Gorven said the state had led no evidence about the psychological harm suffered by the children. It could “only be hoped that the children and their parents have been offered psychotherapy to address this and minimise it”.

He said courts recognise that the younger children are, the more vulnerable they are. “They are usually abused by those who think they can get away with it, and all too often do.”

Gorven said the appeal court gave “anxious consideration” to submissions by Kander that the case should go back to the trial magistrate for evidence about the condition of the children, but no indication was given what evidence, if any, might be available and why it was not led.

De Klerk pleaded guilty to the three counts of indecent assault and has been in jail since November 17.

A clinical psychologist, Dr Lynette Roux, testified for the defence that she had found that De Klerk was a “regressed” as opposed to “fixated” offender. The latter have a continual and impulsive attraction to children, and are likely to repeat the offence. In regressed offenders, the behaviour begins in adulthood and they are capable of feeling remorse.

She found De Klerk is an “opportunistic paedophile” who does not actively seek out his victims.

Roux said she believes that paedophiles do not respond well to prison and that this sometimes results in their turning to violence later on. While prison can serve the short-term need to protect society against De Klerk, it can also make him more of a threat to society than before.

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