Suspect sorry for his crime

2012-11-01 00:00

A HUNCHED, slightly-built 82-year-old woman, who was the victim of rape in July this year, clutched a walking stick and swayed unsteadily as she stood in front of the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday.

She did this so that Acting Judge Igna Stretch could gain an impression of her physical appearance.

Avelo Tuswa (25), the man who yesterday admitted that he had raped her whilst holding his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams, has denied that in addition to rape, he had intended to cause the victim grievous bodily harm.

State advocate Candy Kander, however, submitted in argument that the genital injuries caused to the victim — including what was described by a doctor as a “deep vaginal tear” — showed that Tuswa did intend to cause grievous bodily harm.

The doctor had also noted tenderness on the victim’s neck where she had alleged she was “throttled”.

Kander submitted that Tuswa knew the victim when he decided to rape her, including the fact that she was elderly and “fragile”.

This prompted Stretch to inquire whether the medical report gave details of the woman’s physical condition or weight.

The woman was thereafter asked to stand so that the court could observe her appearance.

If the court finds that the rape was accompanied by an intention to cause grievous bodily harm, Tuswa will face a minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment unless it is found that there are compelling and substantial circumstances which justify a lesser term.

The court is expected to give a ruling on the issue today.

In a statement read to court by his legal aid attorney, Kelvin Singh, Tuswa said he was at home alone on the day in question, July 28, and had consumed Smirnoff vodka.

“After I consumed the liquor I went past the complainant’s house. I observed that the door to her house was open. I entered the house and saw the complainant sleeping on her bed.

“I was unarmed at that stage. I was aroused and I wanted to have sexual intercourse with her,” he said.

Tuswa said he approached the woman and began removing her sleep-wear. “I told her not to scream. I placed my hand over her mouth to muffle her screams,” he said.

He said after raping the woman he got dressed and left the premises.

He was arrested by police about a month later. Tuswa said immediately following his arrest he had told the investigating officer what he had done and he co-operated with the police investigation.

“I am truly remorseful for raping the complainant. I am prepared to take responsibility,” he said.

The state accepted Tuswa’s plea of guilty to a single count of rape of the elderly woman and withdrew two further counts of rape against him.

It was alleged in the indictment originally that the woman was raped three times.

The rape occurred in the Wartburg area. The case is proceeding.

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