Johannesburg - Twin sisters aged 7 have helped to convict a man who raped their 3-year-old sibling.
On Wednesday, Mathys van Zyl of Krugersdorp was found guilty of raping their sister Denise* by penetrating her vagina with his fingers.
She bled for a week after the incident.
The twins, who witnessed Van Zyl rape their sister, were later called to testify. They stuck to their story during cross-examination, leading to the successful conviction of Van Zyl.
Praising their evidence at the South Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge, Judge George Maluleke said the twins had been crucial to the case.
He said while there were moments during the case when the twins appeared confused and mixed up issues, that was to be expected.
Judge Maluleke said that when children of that age were presented with a lot of issues, they became overwhelmed. Despite this, the twins had never changed their story. “In my view, the children remained consistent in their testimony and reasonably stood up well to cross-examination,” he said.
At the time of the rape, Denise and her sisters were enrolled at a nearby daycare centre. The twins used to join Denise at the daycare when school was out.
Their mother Petra* had an agreement with one of the teachers at the centre that when the teacher finished work, she would take the children to her own house. Petra would pick them up later when she finished work and pay the woman.
On September 3 last year, the teacher left her two sons, Denise and the twins at her house while she and her husband went out.
She asked Van Zyl, her tenant of two months who slept in the lounge, to look after the children.
Van Zyl took Denise to the bathroom and raped her.
The door was slightly ajar and the twins saw their half-naked sister on the floor.
Van Zyl had taped her mouth shut with sticky tape.
The twins also revealed that it was not the first time he had done this to Denise.
Judge Maluleke said Van Zyl’s testimony had been fraught with inconsistencies and untruths. He said Van Zyl had clutched at straws in his bid to distance himself from the matter by suggesting that the twins were coached to falsely implicate him.
“How can children of that age memorise so much detail?” he asked.
After judgment was handed down, the prosecutor, advocate Deon Van Wyk, revealed that in 2009, Van Zyl had been found guilty of sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl who was a close family relative. He received a five-year suspended sentence.
Sentence will be handed down on October 16.
* Not their real names.