Western Cape judge reduces rapist’s life sentence to 25 years on appeal
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Cape Town - A Western Cape High Court Judge has shortened the life sentence of a man from Lwandle, near Strand, who in November last year was sentenced to life plus 10 years by the Strand Regional Court.
Luvo Phaliso who committed the offence in 2017 had his life sentence commuted to 25 years, including time served since sentencing, after the judge in his appeal ruled that life imprisonment was disproportionately harsh in the circumstances.
When Phaliso was originally sentenced, the court heard he had approached a young woman outside a popular tavern in Lwandle under the pretence of looking for his pregnant girlfriend.
Phaliso threatened the young woman with a knife and forced her to a secluded area in the informal settlement where he stabbed her in the upper arm and hit her on the forehead before forcing her to undress and raping her at gunpoint.
During his trial Phaliso claimed the sex was consensual, but State prosecutor advocate Peter-John Damon built a strong case against him and evidence from a doctor led to a guilty verdict.
In the ruling, acting Judge Nel said: “I am in agreement with the remarks expressed by Judge Cloete in an unreported judgment, delivered by a full bench in this division, that it cannot be sufficiently underscored that rape is a reprehensible crime which shows no sign of abating in this country.
“Its seriousness and the total disregard displayed by perpetrators for the constitutionally entrenched rights of their victims must be given their full weight in every sentencing procedure.”
The judge listed some of the aggravating factors in the case as being Phaliso’s lack of remorse, the kidnapping prior to the rape and the use of extraneous violence while committing the offences.
“The trial court therefore correctly found that this was a brutal rape. It has also had a significant negative impact on the complainant in that she is now fearful of men and has stated that she would contemplate suicide if the system failed her.”
However, the judge also said that the mitigating factors were that Phaliso is the father of two minor children, he is a first offender, was only 21 years of age at the time that the offence was committed, and he had been in custody for approximately three years when sentencing was argued.
The judge said a substantial sentence of 25 years imprisonment seems sufficient to bring home the gravity of his offence and to exact sufficient retribution for his crime.
“To make him pay for it with the remainder of his life would seem to me to be grossly disproportionate.
“It should be remembered that custodial sentences are not merely numbers. And familiarity with the sentence of life imprisonment must never blunt one to the fact that its consequences are profound.”