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Wartburg, KwaZulu-Natal - The man accused of raping a 94-year-old KwaZulu-Natal woman after being released under a special remission had been serving a theft sentence, correctional services said on Thursday.
“(H)e was very low risk and his sentence was for a crime that bears no relation to this (rape) crime,” chief deputy commissioner for incarceration and corrections, James Smalberger, said.
He said the man had been among a group of prisoners released recently under a special remission.
Smalberger said while the rape crime was such that “one wants to apologise for it”, it needed to be understood the man had received a six-month sentence for theft.
It was for this crime that he had been freed in terms of President Jacob Zuma’s remission programme announced on April 27.
The man was arrested earlier this week for allegedly raping the 94-year-old woman in her home, near the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands town of Wartburg.
He appeared briefly in the New Hanover Magistrate's Court on Thursday as members of the African National Congress staged a protest outside, demanding that he be denied bail.
The Times newspaper reported that the man was a habitual criminal and that his family had not wanted to sign papers for his release.
However, Smalberger said prior to the theft sentence, the man had not previously been in prison. He said this did not exclude the fact that he might have been fined or held a record with the police for minor misdemeanours.
The Times report, headlined “Mr Zuma, What Have You Done?”, quoted the man’s grandmother saying he had been arrested and released several times.
“I was so fed up with him that, when he was sentenced to six months for robbery, I wished it was six life sentences,” she was quoted as saying.
The Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said Zuma should personally apologise to the victim. - Sapa