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Rapist set free after ‘comedy of errors’

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Independent Newspapers

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Limpopo - A “pitiful comedy of errors” in the courts has led to the dismissal of a rape case in which a Limpopo man should have received a life sentence for the rape of a 13-year-old girl, Beeld reported on Tuesday.

Victor Thimbudzi was initially found guilty of rape by the district court and later sent to jail for life by Limpopo High Court.

He had already served 13 years of his sentence, but appeal judges J Heher, N Mhlantla, R Bosielo, M Mbha and D Swain said on Monday that the “comedy of errors” began with Thimbudzi's plea and ended when he was sentenced.

Thimbudzi was never informed that the rape of a 13-year-old carried a mandatory life sentence.

Furthermore, there was never any documentary evidence submitted to prove that the victim was under 16, in keeping with legal requirements.

The district court never ensured, in keeping with legal procedure, that the victim understood the difference between the truth and a lie, and she was therefore not sworn in properly as a witness.

In the high court, the judge never ratified the judgment handed down by the district magistrate, possibly because large portions of the transcribed document were missing, apparently because the transcriber could not hear what was being said in court.

The Supreme Court of Appeal set his sentencing and conviction aside. - Sapa


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