A Pretoria man was sentenced to life in prison on Friday after being found guilty of raping his then-10-year-old stepdaughter in 2013.According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, looked after her during the week."The mother of the victim was working as a domestic worker and slept over at her place of employment, only coming home on weekends," NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said."[The] accused was unemployed and owned a tuckshop at the residence where he was staying with the victim and her two siblings while the mother was away."The victim testified that one evening in October 2013, her stepfather sent her to buy beer. Upon her return, he told her to bring the beer to his bedroom at their home in Mamelodi East."He locked her in, raped her and threatened her with a firearm not to tell anyone."The victim kept the incident a secret for the next five years as she was afraid of her stepfather and the company he kept.Mjonondwane said the accused was friends with convicts and people who were always in trouble with the law.However, in 2018, the victim's mother became unemployed and started living with her husband and children on a full-time basis when she started noticing there was something amiss with her daughter."The mother testified that she noticed that her child behaved strangely towards the accused, often with anger outbursts that would result in the accused hitting the child," Mjonondwane said."She managed to ask the child if there was a problem and the child told her she hated her stepfather because he had raped her."The matter was reported to the police and criminal proceedings instituted."The NPA relied on Section 59 of the Criminal Law [Sexual Offences and Related Matters] Amendment Act 32 of 2007, which states that the court may not draw any conclusion from the length of any delay between the time when the crime was committed and when it was reported. The court accepted the victim's version on why she delayed reporting the matter."Mjonondwane said the victim's version was corroborated by her mother.Prosecutor Thulisile Shabalala argued the accused had abused the fact that the child trusted him and asked the court to consider the prevalence of such cases where child victims are mostly hurt by those they trust, Mjonondwane said. "The court decided that the only suitable sentence to impose is life imprisonment as prescribed by the Minimum Sentences Act for the rape of a minor."