*WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS
The man, who may not be named to protect the identity of the victim, was found guilty on two counts of rape and a charge of sexual assault.
The court heard that on July 4, 2021, the victim’s family invited the accused into their home as a traditional healer after suspecting something was wrong with her.
In his "quest to heal" the girl, he would wake her up at night while the rest of the family was asleep, take her to a separate room, lock the door, and instruct her to undress.
It was then revealed the traditional healer would dip his fingers into guava juice and then insert his fingers into her private parts.
Thereafter, he inserted his penis into her private parts. He would also lick her private parts. The victim escaped and reported the matter to her mother, who was in the other room.
He was subsequently arrested.
State Prosecutor Chantal Adams described the child as an extreme introvert who was severely traumatised by the ordeal.
But Adams brought in the services of the Court Preparation Officer, Carmenita van Rooy, which proved to be a critical turning point in the case.
In her consultations with the child, Adams noted how deeply affected the child was after the incident, and after receiving court preparation support, the victim gave her full cooperation and participated in all the sessions.
On June 26, the child testified on camera with the assistance of the Court Intermediary, Abigail Long, and she was confident and testified well.
Adams said the victim was ready, mature, and confident during her testimony.
She said that although the child was nervous at first, the court team built her confidence, helped her keep composure throughout her testimony, and concluded on the same day without any breakdowns.
Due to her testimony, the State was able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of all counts against him.
During the aggravation of sentence, Adams emphasised the seriousness of the offences committed by the relative and requested the court not to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment.
She further argued that he had no remorse for his actions and preyed on a vulnerable child, and he needed to be stopped in his tracks.
The court sentenced the rapist to life imprisonment for each of the two counts of rape and five years of imprisonment for sexual assault.
The court ordered the sexual assault sentence to run concurrently with the life sentences and that his name be entered into the National Register for Sex Offenders.
It was further ordered that the traditional healer be unsuitable to work with children and that his name be entered into the National Child Protection Register.
Director of Public Prosecutions in the Western Cape, advocate Nicolette Bell, commended the collaboration of the investigators, prosecution, and court preparation services for the vital role each played in ensuring the victim got justice.
“Our investigators, who are well trained, particularly in these types of cases, go beyond the call of duty as they must tread carefully in dealing with a minor victim of a sexual offence. The fact that the perpetrator is a family member tends to make the case more complicated.
“Prosecutors in our sexual offences courts are also very well trained and know how to handle cases of this nature. Our unsung heroes in these cases are court preparation officers, who hardly get mentioned when we secure successful prosecutions and sentences in cases like this one.
“They play a very crucial role, as in this case, in empowering the victims and the witnesses and helping them to give evidence that will secure a successful prosecution and sentence and help them claim their dignity back,” Bell said.