Ex teacher jailed for raping boy, 7
Cape Town - A retired school teacher was on Thursday jailed for five years for the rape of a 7-year-old boy in 2007 and 2008.
“You are a paedophile, and have this problem for quite some time. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and the time has come for punishment,” Paarl Regional Court Magistrate Norma Smile told convicted paedophile Ian Appleton, 72, of Sea Point.
One of the worst problems in the Western Cape was child abuse, she said.
In addition to the jail sentence, Smile also ordered that Appleton’s conviction be recorded in the Register of Sexual Offenders, and declared him unfit to possess a firearm.
Appleton had known the victim's father for some 50 years, and the two had been close friends, according to prosecutor Rialda Jacobs.
Smile allowed Appleton leave to appeal his sentence in the Western Cape High Court, after an application brought by defence attorney John Riley.
The court's public gallery was packed to capacity by people representing anti-child-abuse organisations.
Appleton was given special permission to be seated alongside Riley, instead of in the dock, after the lawyer lamented about persistent snide remarks from the gallery, that he said disturbed Appleton and affected his concentration.
The magistrate said she welcomed the presence of the anti-child-abuse groups at the hearing, but said she would not tolerate bad behaviour.
She said she had studied the “Guide to Sentencing in South Africa”, and case law concerning the punishment of sexual offenders, and the "bottom line" was that the sentence should be neither too harsh nor too lenient.
It had to reflect society's abhorrence of sexual offences. South Africans had a right to security and to live in safety.
Appleton's case in fact called for a life sentence, but there were compelling and substantial circumstances justifying a less severe sentence, she said.
The fact that Appleton pleaded guilty did not lessen the trauma suffered by his victim and his victim’s family. She said children could no longer play safely in the streets, as they used to, without fear of harm.
The number of child abuse cases before courts daily was "overwhelming".
"In the old days, if the parents had to work, the grandparents or neighbours looked after the young children. Today, we see fathers being jailed for abusing their own children,” Smile said.
I give you my word
She allowed Appleton leave to appeal his sentence in the Western Cape High Court, after an application brought by Riley.
Riley asked the court to extend Appleton's R1 000 bail pending the outcome of the appeal. Jacobs countered that Appleton was now a convicted rapist, and had to launch a new bail application, pending the outcome of his appeal.
He had to prove substantial and compelling circumstances justifying his release on bail.
Appleton assured the court that, if released on bail a second time, he would go to prison if his appeal failed.
Asked what his substantial and compelling circumstances were, he said he had a house in Sea Point that had to be cleaned, a domestic servant in her 60s who needed his care, and that he had to pay the monthly bills.
Asked how he felt about having to go to prison, he replied: "I don't look forward to that in the least."
Jacobs added: "I put it to you that you do not want to go to jail."
"Would you like to go to jail?" he replied. "I will come back. I give you my word for that. I will go to jail if my appeal fails."
Jacobs said there were no compelling circumstances justifying his release on bail for the second time, and that the purpose of the application was merely to prolong his freedom.
She added: "It's just for your own comfort, there are no other reasons."
Smile extended Appleton's previous bail, but increased it to R10 000, and placed him under house arrest until his return to court on May 3, for the outcome of his new bail application.
She warned Appleton: "Make sure you stay put at home. I don't want any negative reports about you when I return."