'Opportunistic predator'gets five life terms for rape, murder

2016-12-14 06:00
Jerome Amerika, 23, who was found guilty of raping and killing 10-year-old Shamonique Claasen in February. (Jenna Etheridge/News24)

Jerome Amerika, 23, who was found guilty of raping and killing 10-year-old Shamonique Claasen in February. (Jenna Etheridge/News24)

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Cape Town - A man who raped and killed a 10-year-old girl, and raped his former girlfriend twice, was given five life sentences by the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

In sentencing Jerome Amerika, 23, Judge Robert Henney said in such cases retribution and deterrence came to the fore.

Amerika was last month found guilty of raping and killing Shamonique Claasen.

She went missing in Paarl on February 27, a day before her 11th birthday. Her body was found rolled in a blanket and tied up with wire under Amerika’s bed.

She had a black bag over her head and a stab wound to the chest.

“It is only a coward and someone with no conscience who can act in such an inhumane manner,” Henney remarked in his judgment.

He said Amerika had waited for the girl like “an opportunistic predator”.

“The accused clearly smothered the deceased and thereafter strangled her so that she could not scream for help or assistance. He perpetrated the offences in such a conniving and underhanded manner so that he could not be detected.”

He said Amerika displayed inhumane and barbaric conduct. He had expressed no remorse or offered any explanation for his actions.

“The accused has not only murdered this young child, but the soul and being of her parents and relatives. The court could feel the emotion and felt deep empathy for the hurt and sorrow they have suffered.”

Life in jail

No substantial and compelling circumstances could be found to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment.

Henney sentenced Amerika to life in jail for killing the child. He imposed a further two life terms for raping her twice.

The court also previously found him guilty of raping his former girlfriend twice last year after threatening her with an axe.

She cannot be named because she is a rape survivor.

She twice obtained a protection order against Amerika, but took him back because she believed he would change. They ended up living together as a couple with their four-year-old child.

Amerika was sentenced to three years in jail for kidnapping her. He received two life terms for the rapes.

All the sentences would run concurrently.

Henney agreed with the State that Amerika was a serial abuser who had treated his partner as his property. She had chosen to deal with the abuse in a different manner.

“This is a situation in which many women find themselves, and that is why spousal rape or rape between partners is seldom, if ever, reported to the police.”

Henney said the context of the crimes could not be seen as a mitigating factor.

“In my view, rape committed in the context of an abusive relationship should be regarded as an aggravating factor in the consideration of an appropriate sentence.”

Amerika was declared unfit to possess a firearm. His name was included in the register of sexual offenders.

Read more on:    jerome amerika  |  cape town

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