George - The George father who drugged and raped seven of his 12-year-old daughter’s friends during sleepovers was handed 37 life sentences in the Thembalethu Regional Court on Monday.
He was sentenced to a further 10 years behind bars for 30 charges relating to the creation of pornography, as he photographed the acts.
The sentences will be served concurrently, meaning he will remain behind bars for a minimum of 25 years before being considered eligible for parole.
The 51-year-old man, who has been classified as a serial rapist and paedophile by psychologists, was sentenced on Monday after entering into a plea bargain on January 25.
While he was originally accused of more than 3 000 charges, as part of the plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to 67 of the charges – 37 of which related to the rapes of the girls and the remainder related to the creation of pornography.
His victims were between the ages of 10 and 12 at the time when the incidents took place between 2012 and 2014.
He slipped them sleeping tablets during sleepovers at his home in Denneoord and raped and photographed the girls while they were unconscious.
He was arrested on November 27, 2014 after one of the victims started suspecting something was amiss.
Magistrate Eugenia Jacobs said she did not believe the hefty sentences were “shocking or inappropriate” as she found no compelling, substantial circumstances to deviate from the maximum prescribed terms.
“We have to protect the community against you. You are an absolute danger to society,” Jacobs said.
She labelled the rapes as “disgusting” and said the man – who cannot be named to protect the identity of the children – acted in a calculated and subtle manner over the course of the years the crimes took place.
“You acted like a thief in the night.”
She added she found the fact that he drugged the children was not to spare them trauma as he had claimed, but rather so that he would not be “caught out”.
“They never had the opportunity to defend themselves.”
Jacobs also said that the man created trust among the children and parents and then abused that relationship.
“You fetched them at school when their parents couldn’t, played games with them, organised sleepovers and took them to the beach. One girl described you as a father figure, while another said you were the ‘best father’ to her.”
The man showed no emotion while Jacobs conducted sentencing proceedings, and friends and families of the young girls sobbed.
Yvette Wilschut, spokeswoman for anti-child abuse group Green Hearts, which has been supporting the victims’ families, said that the outcome of the case sent a strong message to potential offenders.