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Nelspruit - A man received three consecutive life sentences in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Friday for raping his orphaned 14-year-old niece on three occasions.
The 42-year-old man, whose cannot be named to protect the teenager's identity, was arrested in Nkomazi, about 100km from Nelspruit, early this year. It was discovered that he had been raping the teenager since 2011.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
In passing sentence, magistrate Rudolf Smith said the child was raped twice in 2011 and again in 2012.
“She was penetrated both in her genitals and anus. At 42-years-old, you should have known better,” he told the man.
“She looked up to you as a father and you should have protected her. But instead, you used her as your other wife.”
Smith said that because of her ordeal, the child could not continue with her education.
“The child has no interest in life anymore and no interest in school. She has dropped out as she could no longer cope after what you did to her.”
Smith said the teenager had no other family to look after her.
“The child testified that she now hates you. She does not wish to meet you in the streets.”
The child still felt physical pain from the injuries he inflicted on her.
Smith described rape of a child as worse than taking her life.
“Rape is an experience with devastating circumstances to the child victims.
“Many women no longer walk free as they suspect anyone can attack or even rape them.
“The lonelier children are, the more they become vulnerable to criminals.”
The magistrate said women and children still faced victimisation and rape, even though the government passed legislation for their protection in 1997.
“Women and children have a right to live freely and in the privacy of their own home. If the court does not protect them, who else will?” he asked.
Smith said the sentence should act as a deterrent to those who “have the same minds” as the rapist.
The magistrate noted that the man had three children and that his wife was receiving support grants.
“Your wife will be taking care of them through the social grant as you were already unemployed and not taking care of them,” Smith said.
“Some suspects get away with these kinds of crime but you, you are unlucky,” Smith told him.
“You are sentenced to three life imprisonment sentences for each of the three counts.” The sentences would run consecutively.
“You are not fit to work with children and not fit to possess a firearm.”
Smith said that the man’s name would be placed on the sexual offenders register.