Shamonique's killer should get light sentence for raping girlfriend, court told

2016-12-07 16:54
Jerome Amerika, 23, who was found guilty of raping and killing 10-year-old Shamonique Claasen. (Jenna Etheridge/News24)

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

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Cape Town - A man who raped his girlfriend twice should receive a lighter sentence because she took him back and never laid a charge, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

This was part of defence lawyer Daniel Theunissen’s closing arguments for his client Jerome Amerika.

The court recently found Amerika, 23, guilty of raping his girlfriend twice last year after threatening her with an axe.

The same court also convicted Amerika of raping and killing 10-year-old Shamonique Claasen in Paarl 10 months ago.

Referring to the rape case involving his girlfriend, Judge Robert Henney asked the parties to prepare additional arguments so he could consider an appropriate sentence.

Theunissen described the abusive relationship Amerika had with his girlfriend as complex. There were destructive dynamics on both sides.

He believed they were "ill".

His analysis was that the girlfriend showed signs of battered woman syndrome and that she had felt guilty or responsible, and took him back after he asked for forgiveness.

'A wolf stays a wolf'

Amerika, meanwhile, had a difficult upbringing, felt he had no status in the community, and brought women down to make himself feel better, the lawyer said.

At one point, Henney commented: "A wolf stays a wolf, even though he has sheep’s clothing on."

The girlfriend twice obtained an interdict against Amerika, but took him back because she believed he would change. They ended up living together as a couple with their 4-year-old child.

Prosecutor Maria Marshall countered that Amerika was an abuser who had no respect for his partner. He should not get the benefit of the doubt.

She said it should be kept in mind that the two were separated at the time of the rapes.

"There are a lot of women out there who find themselves in the same situation and don’t make a case or speak out," she said in Afrikaans.

The State initiated the rape case on her behalf because it felt it had a duty to uphold the rule of law. She said the court should be careful of not send the wrong message about rape.

'Shown no remorse'

Henney said it was rare for such a case to reach the high court.

"Thousands of rapes happen every day in a family, relationship, and marriage setting. The parties forgive each other and the rapes never come to light. What is the court to do?" he pondered.

Shamonique went missing in Paarl on February 27, a day before her 11th birthday. Her body was later 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. Marshall said the mother still struggled to accept her child’s death.

The killing was senseless and the injuries, serious and brutal.

"He got on well with Shamonique and abused that trust. The accused has shown no remorse. When the family came to testify, he smirked."

Amerika kept his head down in the dock.

He is expected to be sentenced for all the crimes next Tuesday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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