Gogo now feels scared 'like a child’

2012-11-13 00:00

AN 82-year-old woman who was brutally raped in her bed has told the high court in Pietermaritzburg that she has turned into a “small child” incapable of doing anything for herself.

This was revealed in her impact statement handed to acting high court Judge Igna Stretch yesterday, in aggravation of sentence of convicted rapist Avelo Tuswa (25).

The widowed woman, who has four children and around 20 grandchildren, is a highly respected member of the New Hanover community.

She described her ordeal as a “very painful experience which I am still feeling”.

“I wish that the law would take its course. Since this incident I have turned into a small child. I cannot do anything for myself. I am afraid of sleeping alone.

“I am afraid of returning to the home where I was raped. A picture of what happened to me simply returns. Another that hurts me most is leaving my house, which was precious to me, as it is the only thing I inherited from my late husband,” the woman said.

The court previously heard detailed evidence from Dr Nithiyanandan Naidoo, who testified that the injuries inflicted on the woman by her rapist were the worst he had seen in 40 years of practice, during which time he examined about 120 rape survivors annually, including children.

Naidoo described how the woman was carried into his rooms screaming with pain, her body and clothing soaked in blood. Blood dripped down her thighs and legs.

According to the elderly rape survivor, she now has to see a doctor regularly because of her injuries and is taking medication for the first time in her life.

“As a result of this sexual molestation on me, my son can no longer go to look for work, because I am afraid of remaining alone.

“My son has to stay unemployed and he has to build an extra room for me in his house so that I can be near him and his family under one roof.”

The woman’s daughter echoed her mother’s sentiments and said the entire family was extremely traumatised and angry over the attack on her mother.

“What hurts the most is that we suspected that the perpetrator was a young person and that he was from the same area.”

She said since the rape “granny” was no longer able to cook and do washing, as was the case before she was violated.

“Granny is now mentally disturbed; she forgets.”

The daughter described how her mother was afraid and had to share a bed. She could no longer stay in the house alone.

“Her dignity has been severely impaired in the community and in the family, and she has lost her self confidence,” the daughter said.

Acting Judge Stretch yesterday convicted Tuswa of rape involving the infliction of grievous bodily harm.

Tuswa now faces a minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment in terms of legislation, unless the court finds that compelling and substantial circumstances exist that justify a lesser sentence.

Acting Judge Stretch said there was little difference between the rape of an elderly woman and the rape of a child.

“Our children and our old people both fall in the same category — they are soft targets and are vulnerable members of society.”

Tuswa will be sentenced on Friday.

State advocate Candy Kander urged the court yesterday to impose life imprisonment. Anything less would be inadequate, she said.

Kander argued that the sentence must reflect society’s indignation and repugnance of the crime Tuswa committed.

It should also take into account the increasing prevalence of the rape of elderly women, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

Kander said the rape of the 82-year-old had drawn widespread attention, shown by the packed public gallery throughout the trial.

She disputed a submission by Tuswa’s legal aid attorney, Kelvin Singh, that his client had shown remorse by pleading guilty.

Kander said Tuswa’s guilty plea was entered into only after DNA tests linked him to the rape on October 19 this year.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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