Johannesburg -

A woman was handed 12 life sentences for sexual offences against her own children, North West police said on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old woman received six life sentences for rape, six for compelled rape and 20 years imprisonment for four other offences, Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said in a statement.

The sentences were handed out by the Rustenburg Regional Court on Monday.

“The offences include six counts of sexual assault, four counts of compelled sexual assault and six of compelling or forcing children to witness sexual acts,” Mokgwabone said.

She was also sentenced on six counts of abuse and child neglect.

Mokgwabone said the woman and her 51-year-old husband have three children - aged 7, 8 and 15 - in Zeerust. The children’s plight was brought to the attention of social workers amid reports of abuse.

The trial was set for March 1, 2013, but the husband was reported to be sick on the set date and the case was postponed to June.

The pair failed to appear in court and warrants for their arrest were issued. They were traced and arrested three months later.

The matter was then set for June 18-30, 2014.

“It was during the trial that the accused changed her plea, which was accepted by the State. The court then ordered a separation of trials and the case against the father was postponed until 5 September 2014 to allow him to undergo a 30-days observation at a psychiatric facility,” Mokgwabone said. - Sapa