Man (49) admits to rapingsix boys

2010-01-26 00:00

A CHURCH counsellor, Michael Hlongwa (49), pleaded guilty in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday to having raped six boys between the ages of nine and 12 in Newcastle in the course of 2009.

He said in a statement read to Judge Sharmaine Balton and two assessors by his legal representative, Kelvin Singh, that his permanent home is in Pietermaritzburg.

“I was a member of a local church and took a keen interest in the church. I would volunteer my assistance and help Pastor Mathebula to counsel members of the congregation.”

Hlongwa said the pastor eventually asked him to assist by going to the church in Newcastle and offering his counselling skills to help solve the problems the congregation was experiencing.

“As a result I moved to the Vezubuhle area, Newcastle, alone during the year 2008. I was given free accommodation, which was near the church. It was a neat home with proper facilities. My family remained in Pietermaritzburg.”

He described in detail the various rapes that occurred, and said only one of the sexual encounters took place with the consent of the youngster concerned.

On various occasions he had asked boys to his home or obtained permission from their parents for them to sleep at his house where he committed the rapes.

On one occasion, he said, he asked a boy to have sex with him and the boy agreed. After they had got dressed he handed him R10. On another occasion he gave his victim R5. Hlongwa told the boys not to tell anybody what he had done with them.

The court heard that Hlongwa has two previous convictions for indecent assault and sodomy arising from offences committed in 1992 and 1994.

Singh said he conceded the crimes committed by Hlongwa are “heinous”, but urged the court to afford him an opportunity to be rehabilitated.

Child rape attracts a minimum sentence of life imprisonment unless the court finds there are compelling and substantial reaons to justify a lower sentence.

Singh said Hlongwa has two daughters and his wife is a teacher. He also has a teaching diploma. He added that Hlongwa is remorseful and is receiving church counselling.

Prosecutor Pretty-Girl Ngcobo submitted that the fact that Hlongwa is a church member is an aggravating factor. She said parents and the children concerned had trusted him and he had abused and betrayed that trust.

She said Hlongwa’s victims will have to live with the trauma of what he had done for the rest of their lives and one could only imagine the impact it would have on their future.

The court is expected to pass judgment today.

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