Ex-mayor loses appeal

By Time of article published Oct 13, 2008

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By Karen Breytenbach

Embattled former Kannaland mayor Jeffrey Donson has lost his Cape High Court appeal against convictions of indecent assault and statutory rape, for having sex with a 15-year-old while in office.

"The appellant (Donson) was mayor at the time and abused his power and influence. The magistrate did not err in convicting him," Cape High Court Judge Lee Bozalek said on Friday.

Donson, a former school teacher turned politician and disc jockey, was convicted on one count of indecent assault and seven of statutory rape in the Oudtshoorn Regional Court on January 28.

He had pleaded not guilty and denied the allegations against him.

The charges included touching a 15-year-old girl's private parts in his car at a dumping site in August 2004, after he picked her up at his nightclub, where he also was the DJ.

She had consensual sex with him seven times in August and September 2004 in his municipal office, in a colleague's office, at a factory and at Matjiesvlei, a valley near Calitzdorp. At the time, Donson was 42 and a married father of three.

The girl's testimony was corroborated by other state witnesses.

The allegations surfaced after the girl ran away from home and her parents reported her missing.

When she was found in Ladismith, she told the investigating officer of the brief affair with Donson.

She said Donson knew she was under the legal age of consent.

Her friend had a relationship with one of Donson's chauffeurs.

Bozalek and fellow Judge Tandaswa Ndita disagreed with the magistrate's sentence of 18 months imprisonment, 12 months of which was suspended for five years, for the first count of indecent assault.

The sentence was replaced with one of nine months imprisonment, suspended for five years, on condition that he was not found guilty of a similar sexual offence.

Concerning the seven counts of statutory rape, the judges disagreed with a combined sentence of five years in prison.

Instead, they imposed one year's imprisonment suspended for five years, on condition that Donson was placed under correctional supervision, that he successfully completes a rehabilitation programme for sexual offenders and that he was not found guilty of a sexual offence involving a minor during the period. He was also ordered to pay a fine of R20 000.

Donson, who is president of the Independent Civic Organisation of SA, lost his mayoral post when he was expelled from the National People's Party on September 4. He had dual Icosa and NPP membership then.

NPP leader Badih Chaaban and his party met in Ladismith, Donson's hometown, on Friday to plan for the by-election in Donson's vacant ward five on October 29.

Donson did not attend the proceedings, but was represented by his lawyer Gideon Badenhorst, who said he was satisfied with the revised sentences.

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