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Johannesburg - A couple convicted for the rape and death of their 10-month-old daughter were sentenced on Wednesday to 18 years in prison each by the Johannesburg High Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court.
Judge Majeke Mabesele gave Adriaan Netto, 37, and his girlfriend, 34, four years each for culpable homicide, three for child abuse, and 15 for rape. The sentences for culpable homicide and rape would run concurrently.
Before sentencing the couple, the judge said he had a duty to send out a clear message to communities and parents that the violation of children's rights would not be tolerated.
The couple sat in the dock with their heads bowed as the sentences were read out.
Mabesele said they had shown no remorse for the child's death.
“It is evident she died a painful and undignified death at the hands of her parents. With the seriousness in nature of the crime, society will look to the courts to dish out harsh sentences. I'm mindful that reasoning should be above emotions to avoid sentencing in anger,” he said.
Mabesele said the couple had faced life sentences, but he had taken into account their personal circumstances.
Although the court had a duty to impose the harshest sentence, he had to consider their two other children.
“I don't agree with the argument raised by the State on the other children being well taken care of. These children should be raised and guided through life by their parents,” he said.
On September 18, Mabesele found the couple guilty of culpable homicide, child abuse, and the rape of their 10-month-old daughter.
Mabesele found that while the couple had not murdered the child, as charged, their neglect and abuse made them culpable for the baby's death in March last year.
“(I) conclude that the deceased sustained bodily injuries while under the care of her parents,” the judge said.
“They had a legal duty to look after her... Being 10 months old, the deceased was unable to injure herself.”
Mabesele said the baby's injuries, including broken ribs, anal damage caused by penetration, plus vaginal and liver damage, had been inflicted on the child.
Testimony by Netto and the woman that they did not know how the baby was injured was not true.
“(The) injuries suggest long-standing child abuse,” Mabesele said. - Sapa