File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - Child rights organisations have reacted with outrage to a three-year suspended sentence handed to a Plettenberg Bay man convicted of molesting a 10-year-old girl.

This as Mitchells Plain residents took the law into their own hands, demanding the release of an alleged child rapist from the police in Tafelsig. The man was accused of raping an 8-year-old girl.

Convicted child sex abuser Mike Wise from Plettenberg Bay will be under correctional supervision following his appearance in the Knysna Magistrate’s Court last week.

He was also ordered to pay for the 22 therapy sessions for the child. No minor children may sleep over at his home and his name would be added to the national sex offenders register, the court ordered.

However, activists described the sentence as a slap on the wrist, saying it sent a wrong message to would-be sexual abusers.

Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) spokeswoman Joanne Barrett said: “WMACA are outraged that this predator has been given such a shocking sentence of just three years’ house arrest after admitting guilt openly in a court of law.

“This is a serious negligent omission by the State. This is putting other children in severe danger. The charges against him are extremely serious. The judicial system needs to be held accountable for poor decisions made.”

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said the courts did not regard correctional supervision as a light sentence.

“The accused pleaded guilty and displayed remorse. He also tried to apologise to the parents of the complainant but they rejected it.

“The complainant was a single child witness who reported the incident relatively long after the fact, and (with) nothing to corroborate her story. During consultation, the complainant was not able to recount the events in sufficient detail.

“The NPA prioritises cases against women and children, as has been displayed in numerous cases that were before our courts.

“There are dedicated prosecutors who deal with these kinds of cases, and we always strive to ensure a short turnaround time and convictions in such cases.

“Our courts do not regard correctional supervision as a light sentence,” Ntabazalila said.