File picture: Andrew Ingram/Independent Media

Durban - An Isipingo man who had taken care of his niece since she was 2 pleaded guilty to raping her when she was 10.

The Durban Regional Court heard on Wednesday that the girl’s mother had died and she had been placed in his care.

State prosecutor Jerome Gnanapragas said the girl had seen the man as a father figure.

However, it did not appear that the man saw the young girl, the daughter of his sister, as his child. When asked how many children he had, he did not include the 10-year-old girl in his response.

According to his written plea, which was read out to the court by his Legal Aid attorney Sifiso Lushaba, the incident took place on the evening of May 9, last year.

The man’s wife had gone to their neighbour’s house to cook because they had no electricity. He then ordered the young girl to remove her underwear and hold on to the couch.

After raping her, he told her to get dressed and not tell anyone about what happened. A few days later, the police arrived to arrest him.

Testifying during sentencing, the 33-year-old said he had been married for two years and had two minor children. He asked the court for leniency as he had spent seven months in custody and said he had a heart problem which would worsen if he was jailed for long.

He also apologised to the young girl. Under cross-examination, the man conceded the young girl looked up to him as a stepfather and had called him “father”.

When magistrate Simphiwe Hlophe asked him why he raped the girl, he said he did not know and blamed Satan.

Lushaba argued that his client had shown remorse and taken responsibility for his action by pleading guilty.

“I agree that this is a serious offence and it is rare to have a guilty plea. He did not waste the court’s time and his plea shows he has punished himself first by admitting it. This rape is not as serious as other rape incidents presented to the court. He is a first offender and should have a chance to be rehabilitated,” Lushaba argued.

Gnanapragas asked the court if people guilty of such an offence could be rehabilitated and argued for life imprisonment.

“The accused finds himself at odds to explain why he did this. Psychologists have stated that the reason why (sex offenders) are attracted to children is inexplicable. He should be removed permanently from society. The victim has told the State she cried out aloud during the rape and has injuries (on her private parts),” he said.

He also said they had shared a father-daughter relationship and that the man had violated a position of trust.

“Society, his family and his children need to be protected from him. Who knows when Satan will strike again,” asked Gnanapragas.

Sentencing has been rolled over to today.

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