Pretoria - A man who was given four life sentences for repeatedly raping a pre-teen girl has had this overturned and replaced with 20 years.
The reason? The girl “co-operated” and the only aggravating factor was her age – she was barely 11 when the sex started.
It was found the rapist had easy access to the girl’s home. She opened the window for him to get in, and freely went to his home, where she “got under the blankets” with him.
The girl, with the consent of her mother, went to stay with the man for a week, during which he raped her.
Acting Judge MJ Mushasha found that the only resistance the girl showed was “closing her thighs”. There was “no evidence that the complainant experienced any psychological symptoms”.
The man, who cannot be identified so as not to identify the girl, was sentenced by the Springs Regional Court to four life terms last year.
He appealed to the North Gauteng High Court.
The high court heard that the child knew the accused well as he was a family friend.
On one occasion he asked her to go to his home where he raped her, before taking her to the shops where he bought her some items and gave her R150 for hair accessories.
She did not report these events.
Soon after that the man asked the girl’s mother if she could spend the week with him. The mother agreed. Another time he wanted her to watch pornographic films, but she refused. He again raped her.
A few months later, during a church meeting, the girl told a member of the congregation what had happened. She said she did not want to have sex with the man as it was “sinful to engage in sex before marriage”.
She said she had not said anything as she was afraid.
The man denied raping the girl, claiming she was like his daughter.
Judge Mushasha expressed concern about the conduct of the child.
“Without expressing any concern, she went back home to her mother and showed her the money and articles given to her by the appellant.”
When it was argued that the sex was consensual, the judge said in terms of the law, a child under 12 was incapable of consenting to sex.
The State argued the man had groomed the child for sex.
While he could not find fault with the conviction, the judge said four life sentences were excessive.