Uncle escapes life term for child rape

2008-05-14 00:00

A man who raped his 11-year-old niece in July 2006 yesterday escaped a term of life imprisonment and was jailed for 16 years for the crime by high court Judge Piet Koen.

Koen found there were compelling and substantial circumstances that warranted a lower sentence than the prescribed life imprisonment for the rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

These were that he was a first offender, had pleaded guilty and shown remorse and that he was still young — 25 years old — with good prospects for rehabilitation.

The court heard that since his imprisonment he has joined the Zionist church movement to make amends for his action. He also has had no formal education.

The court was told that the rapist had been handed over to police by his mother, who is also caring for the child in question. The girl has no mother and had been living with her uncle and his family at the time of the rape in an informal settlement near Howick.

A factor viewed as aggravating by the court is that the victim is the man’s niece. Koen said state advocate Phumlani Shandu had stressed the prevalence of this type of offence. He agreed, but said that if the court was to consider differing degrees of seriousness in rape cases, this would “not rank up there with the most serious cases that have come before the court”.

The judge said he made this remark “with some trepidation” and said it should not be understood to mean that some rapes are not serious. All of them are, but it was not the same type of rape dealt with earlier in the week where a father raped and injured his daughter and niece repeatedly.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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