Rustenburg - The sentencing of a North West mother to 12 life terms for repeatedly raping her own children has been hailed as victory for “caged victims” and a warning to abusive parents.
The 37-year-old woman received six life sentences for rape, six for compelled rape and 20 years imprisonment for four other offences, Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said in a statement on Tuesday.
This sentence came just a day before the wife of the so-called Springs monster appeared in court to apply for bail. She is accused of repeatedly abusing her five children and subjecting them to filthy living conditions.
The sentence was handed out by the Rustenburg Regional Court on Monday after the mother pleaded guilty to the charges against her.
“The offences include six counts of sexual assault, four counts of compelled sexual assault and six of compelling children to witness sexual acts,” Mokgwabone said.
She was also sentenced on six counts of abuse and child neglect.
Mokgwabone said the woman and her 51-year-old husband, whose trial has been separated, abused their three children aged 7, 8 and 15 in Zeerust between 2007 and 2009 until the matter was brought to the attention of social workers.
On Wednesday morning, Women and Men against Child Abuse (WMACA) welcomed the sentence. “It’s a tough sentence,” said WMACA director, Miranda Jordan-Friedmann.
“It sends out a strong message to people who abuse, and have the capability to abuse, their children.”
She said compelled rape was defined by a person allowing or facilitating rape.
“It could involve one adult forcing another to rape a child but in addition forcing an older child to rape a younger child.”
Jordan-Friedmann said that in her experience, the majority of sexual violence cases involving children between six and 12 were performed by family members.
But Lisa Vetten, associate researcher for the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, said the sentence was “extremely heavy”.
She said she found the sentence “unusual” given that the woman pleaded guilty.
Jordan-Friedmann said children in rural or isolated areas are “particularly vulnerable” to intra-familiar rape.
“They rely on their parents for food, clothing and a place to sleep.
“The outside world is not an option for them to run to.
“They are captured victims, they are caged victims.”
Meanwhile, the Springs mother applied for bail in the Springs Regional Court on Tuesday while her husband was denied bail a month ago.
They allegedly kept their children captive in their home and subjected them to abuse over several years.
The wife’s lawyer, Isabella van Eck, said the woman could not read or write and the police had intimidated her while she gave a statement, which was then not read back to her.
She faces charges of child abuse, attempted murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and defeating the ends of justice.
Her husband faces the same charges and an additional one of raping his wife.
During her bail application, the wife denied he raped her.
The matter continues today.
The North West mother’s trial was set for March 1, 2013, but her husband was reported to be sick on the set date and the case was postponed to June.
The pair failed to appear in court and warrants for their arrest were issued.
They were traced and arrested three months later.
The matter was then set down last month.
“It was during the trial that the accused changed her plea, which was accepted by the State.
“The court then ordered a separation of trials and the case against the father was postponed until September 5 to allow him to undergo a 30-days observation at a psychiatric facility,” Mokgwabone said.