The woman who made legal history in SA when she was charged with raping an underage boy has been sent to jail for 15 years.
The trial caused widespread interest, and now that the high court in Port Elizabeth has handed down sentence it’s clear that there are several important issues involved as well as the merely sensational.
If ever there was a case in which judges made the law look ridiculous in the eyes of the public, it was this week’s matter involving convicted rapists Jacob Mashinini and Simon Abolisi. The two were part of a group of four men who gang-raped a relative of Mashinini. Sentenced to life imprisonment, the two appealed, saying this was “too long”.
Life imprisonment is the default sentence for gang rape unless there are “substantial and compelling” reasons for a lesser sentence.
Towards the end of last year I confidently predicted that an official of the Department of Home Affairs would spend his year-end holidays compiling a crucial document for the High Court: I make a useless fortune-teller.
The court wanted the report to be completed and handed in by January 21. Instead, 10 days after it was due, a meeting was held in the chambers of Judge Dennis Davis on Tuesday, at which representatives of the department asked for another month to file the document.