Indecent assualt: Accused gets rowdy in court

2009-01-21 00:00

A 44-year-old man who became “rowdy” whilst he was being sentenced for a string of indecent assaults on young children was removed from the regional court by a police officer yesterday and his sentence given in his absence.

The convicted man, Bonginkosi Zungu of Imbali, scrambled out of the accused’s dock and wriggled under a railing into the front section of the courtroom where court officials including the prosecutor, interpreter and defence lawyers were seated while regional magistrate, Rose Mogwera was passing sentence on him.

Holding a newspaper clipping aloft he began to complain loudly in Zulu. He demanded that the case be referred to the high court for sentence.

Mogwera repeatedly told Zungu to return to the accused’s dock but he refused to do so. He continued to loudly repeat his grievances, interrupting her attempts at continuing with the sentencing.

Eventually Mogwera instructed a burly policeman, who was standing by, to remove him and he was taken away to the cells.

Mogwera sentenced Zungu to an effective 13 years in jail for 18 counts of indecent assaults on children. She stressed that courts have a responsibility to protect children and the community from the likes of Zungu.

All but one of Zungu’s victims, were boys between the ages of nine and 11 years whom he had lured to participate in a “sports club”.

One victim was a 13-year-old girl. Zungu was acquitted on a charge that he raped the girl but convicted of indecently assaulting her.

The incidents occurred during 2002. He was arrested in connection with the offences in April 2003 and has been in custody ever since.

Mogwera took into account the long time that Zungu had already spent in jail when determining his sentence.

She sentenced Zungu to one year imprisonment in respect of each of the 18 charges, but ordered that five years of the sentences should run concurrently, as that was the period he had already been in jail.

Prior to the sentence being passed Zungu urged Mogwera to impose a non-custodial sentence on him and said he needed to take care of his own child and two of his sister’s children, following the death of his mother.

Zungu said his two sisters, his brother and his mother had all died whilst he was in custody.

Mogwera said, whilst having regard to his request, she also had to consider the interests of the community. She said Zungu’s offences were extremely serious and attracted indignation. “The community expects courts to protect innocent young children from the likes of yourself,” she told him prior to his removal.

An aggravating factor was that the victims had regarded him as an “Uncle” and that he abused their trust.

One complainant had testified that when the abuse started he “didn’t feel okay” to do what Zungu was teaching them, but after a while he said he got so used to it he used to do it even in Zungu’s absence, she said.

“This gives the impression that you desensitised them to the wrongfulness of what they were doing.”

Mogwera said there was ample research showing that children carried the emotional and psychological scars of sexual abuse to adulthood. She was also concerned that Zungu had shown no remorse, maintaining his innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence instead.

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