An ID photo of Philemon Rapagadie, convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl from Valhalla Park.

The man convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl who subsequently gave birth to his child has been sentenced to life in prison by the Parow Regional Court.

In delivering sentence yesterday, Magistrate Elsa Van Zyl said she found no substantial or compelling circumstances to justify deviating from the prescribed minimum of life in prison for the rape of a minor.

Last month, Van Zyl convicted Philemon Rapagadie of raping the girl twice, once in November 2006 and again in January 2007.

At the time, the girl lived in Bishop Lavis and played with Rapagadie’s daughter.

“She trusted you. At 11 years old she was not emotionally and physically ready for sex,” Van Zyl said.

Van Zyl disagreed with Rapagadie’s lawyer, Keith Gess, who, during closing arguments, moved for a lesser sentence than life.

Gess submitted that his client was 52 years old, was a first offender when the offence was committed and that he was a hard-working person.

Rapagadie has seven children and, when he testified in mitigation of sentence on Monday, he said he wished he could be out of prison so that he could support his children financially.

Rapagadie, however, denied that the child born from the rape was his, saying: “No, it’s not my child, I didn’t touch her.” DNA test results, however, have proven his paternity.

Prosecutor Francine Ruben referred most of her closing argument to the victim impact report compiled by social worker Lee-Anne Jones after interviewing the girl – who is now 15.

Jones testified that the rape, pregnancy, labour and giving the child up for adoption had had an adverse affect on the girl’s emotional and psychological state.

She said the girl had attempted suicide twice in the past year and no longer trusted men, deciding rather to be homosexual.

But Gess argued that Jones’s findings were “skewed” and biased, that the report was not corroborated and was based on a three-hour interview with the girl.

The girl now lives in Worcester with a foster mother.

Since his conviction, Rapagadie’s name has been added to the National Register for Sex Offenders, which forbids him from working with children unless his conviction is overturned.

Rapagadie, who is already serving a 15-year sentence for attempting to kill his former wife three years ago, has 14 days in which to appeal his conviction and sentence.

On January 21, 2007, Rapagadie attempted to kill his ex-wife, Priscilla Harrison, in front of her Muizenberg church.

At the time of his trial, the Wynberg Regional Court heard that Rapagadie had driven up to the Fountain of Life Christian Church just before a morning service and followed Harrison as she walked towards the building.

Harrison’s fellow church-goers persuaded Rapagadie to leave and he turned away, the court was told.

But he took only a few steps, then turned back and asked Harrison if he could talk to her.

When his former wife refused, he drew his gun and shot and wounded her in the stomach. She recovered.

Rapagadie then pointed the firearm at his own head and pulled the trigger, but the bullet only grazed him.

He sped away from the scene, but police arrested him at his Grassy Park home the following day. - Cape Argus

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