Mbombela - An Mpumalanga man accused of raping his five-year-old niece was handed a suspended sentence after his mother unintentionally contaminated evidence.
The man, 43, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, was sentenced in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Tuesday.
He was arrested in January 24, 2011 after his brother's child reported she was raped on January 23.
He pleaded not guilty to rape, but was found guilty of sexual assault after magistrate Erwin Sithole told the court the charge had changed to sexual assault.
He said the accused's mother unintentionally tampered with evidence by using her fingers when examining the child's private parts.
Sithole sentenced the man to four years' imprisonment, which was suspended for five years.
He said the accused's name would be placed in the register of sexual offenders.