The Worcester Regional Court sitting in the Swellendam Magistrate’s Court has delivered a powerful message against gender-based violence by sentencing three rapists for their heinous crimes against a child.
The victim, a young girl, endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend and his two friends.
The boyfriend, who was entrusted with the care and protection of the child while her mother was at work, violated that trust in the most unimaginable way.
From 2018 to 2021, he repeatedly raped the girl from the age of nine until she was twelve. Even more horrifying, he facilitated the rape by inviting his two friends to join in the abuse.
The accused would then take turns raping the 12-year-old complainant while others watched.
The court, fully aware of the immense emotional trauma inflicted upon the victim, recognized the severity of the offences committed against her. State advocate Heinrich Koert emphasized that this case warranted the maximum sentence, as it epitomized the plight faced by young women and girls in the area.
The court agreed, considering the need for deterrence and retribution in protecting the community against gender-based violence.
The accused are not being named to avoid indirectly naming the child and to avoid her secondary victimisation.
The boyfriend was charged with four counts of rape and three counts of sexual exploitation of a child.
The boyfriend, aged 30, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his crimes. His two friends, aged 26 and 28, received sentences of 15 years each. While these sentences may deviate from the prescribed minimum, Magistrate Abigail Juries found substantial and compelling circumstances for such a decision.
The fact that the accused pleaded guilty and spared the victim the trauma of a protracted trial demonstrated a degree of remorse. Additionally, the court acknowledged that the two friends were induced by the boyfriend to participate in the abuse and that their involvement was limited to one occasion each.
In her sentencing remarks, Magistrate Juries highlighted the boyfriend’s betrayal of the trust placed upon him. As the caregiver in the mother’s absence, he had a duty to protect the child, but instead, he subjected her to repeated sexual abuse in the presence of his friends.
The successful prosecution and sentencing in this case are a result of collaborative efforts by law enforcement agencies. Advocate Koert, prosecutor Elton Willemse, investigating officer Sergeant Monica Arries, and Worcester Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) case manager advocate Cindy Abdol all played crucial roles in securing justice for the victim.
The impact on the victim was profound, and at one point, she hesitated to continue with the case. However, expert counselling from the Worcester TCC provided vital support, enabling her to see the case through.
The court also took measures to protect the community by ordering the names of the convicted rapists to be entered into the National Register for Sexual Offenders and the National Child Protection Register.
They were declared unfit to work with children and prohibited from possessing firearms. Furthermore, the court ensured that the victim would be informed when parole is considered for the accused.