Life for raping mentally-ill teen

Mbombela - An Mpumalanga man who raped a mentally-ill teenager at knifepoint was sentenced to life imprisonment when he appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old accused, from Zwelisha Trust, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of rape.

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“With strong evidence against you, I expected you to plead guilty to the charge, but you chose to deny it. You were also not remorseful,” Magistrate Willie Wilkens told him.

The man cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim and witnesses, who are close relatives.

Wilkens said the girl was a virgin at the time, and could not defend herself. He said rape was prevalent in South Africa.

“This country is facing epidemic proportions of rape, and more especially on children. Statistics show that men use force or power to commit such offences. Although government has introduced programmes to stop rape, it is still the same,” he said.

At the Nelspruit Regional Court alone, there were 230 rape cases still waiting to be heard.

“It is the courts' duty to ensure women and children are defended from rapists.”

Wilkens said compelling circumstances were that the accused has been in custody for six months, and was a first offender.

“But that does not prevent the court from imposing the prescribed minimum sentence. You are sentenced to life imprisonment and declared unfit to possess a firearm,” he said.

The man's legal representative, Eddie Mabaso, said his client had instructed him to appeal against the conviction.