Argentina's Supreme Court says the public health system must provide an abortion to a woman who was rescued from a prostitution ring. File photo: AP

Durban - The Durban High Court was urged not to punish a sex assault victim for taking 21 years to come forward.

This was the plea from prosecutor Melanie Naicker in the case of a Durban man charged with indecently assaulting and raping his stepdaughters.

The acts allegedly started when the sisters were seven and eight and carried on for about nine years.

He was arrested in 2010 when he returned to SA from the United Kingdom.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victims, has admitted he committed some acts of indecent assault, but denied the rape charge.

He is now divorced from their mother.

Naicker said on Wednesday that the late reporting of the acts by the sisters should not be held against them.

“They were two little girls who wanted to come out with their story but he told them that they would be sent away if they did. Their mother even asked them to wait because of her other young children. They waited until they reached their breaking point and they found out he was marrying another woman in the United Kingdom who had a daughter. They might have come forward late, but they have done the right thing,” Naicker said.

She said the man had manipulated the girls and had hid the abuse from their mother.

Defence attorney Thiagaraj Pillay said his client had no reason to lie.

“He has come and told the court the shocking details of exactly what he did, but he is adamant that the rape did not happen and it did not start when the first victim was seven years old.

“His version should be believed.” Pillay added that the court was dealing with the evidence of a single witness which should be “treated with caution”.

Acting Judge A Mfayela started his judgment on Wednesday and will conclude on Friday. - The Mercury