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Johannesburg - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has reduced by half the 30-year jail sentence of a convicted Limpopo rapist who had confessed to raping a nine-year-old girl in 2001.
In a judgment delivered on Wednesday by appeal Judge Nigel Willis, the SCA found that the 30-year imprisonment imposed on Thinashaka Mahadulula by retired Judge Ntsanwisi Hetisani, of the Limpopo High Court, “does not square with the requirements of justice”.
Mahadulula had raped the girl at night while she was sleeping at her home in Fandani village in January 2001. He was 18 at the time.
Mahadulula was arrested several months later and appeared in the Thohoyandou Magistrate’s Court on October 13, 2001.
“Having admitted all the elements of the offence of rape, the appellant was correctly convicted by the magistrate,” said Judge Willis.
The magistrate’s court had referred Mahadulula’s matter to the high court for sentencing on February 5, 2002. He was sentenced to 30 years’ prison.
On June 12 last year, high court Judge Khami Makhafola granted Mahadulula leave to appeal against the sentence.
At the time of sentencing, Mahadulula was already serving a three-year sentence for breaking into the girl’s house.
“The appellant reported to the social worker that he had been under the influence of alcohol at the time of commission of the offence,” the judgment read.
A psychiatrist’s report had stated that Mahadulula was fit to stand trial and that he was “not impaired by mental illness or defect”.
However, the same report noted that he was “sullen and monosyllabic” and that there was evidence that he had a “maladjusted personality with antisocial traits”.
Mahadulula, who had been represented by an advocate Netshifhefhe, argued on appeal that Judge Hetisani had not complied with section 52 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997 and section 112(1) (b) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51of 1977.
The SCA noted that the appellant was the third of six children, he had studied only up to Standard 3 and he had shown remorse for his offences.
The SCA said Mahadulula’s youthful age when he raped the girl and “his social problems and remorse” justified a high court finding that he did not deserve a life imprisonment for the rape offence.
“Having made such a finding, the high court’s imposition of a sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment does not square with the requirements of justice.”