Mother’s advice a bad omen for jailed child rapist
Share this article:
Pretoria - Sometimes your mother is not the best legal adviser. A Benoni man who claims he is now in jail serving a life sentence because of his mother learned this the hard way.
Theko Talimo told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that his mother told him that if he confessed to raping an 8-year-old girl, all would be forgiven and the charge withdrawn.
So when he appeared before a magistrate in the lower court in Benoni, he remembered his mother’s advice and confessed to the crime.
But Talimo has now told the High Court on appeal that – to his surprise – he was convicted and given a life sentence. He said that when he realised that he would not be “forgiven” by the court after being convicted, as assured by his mother, he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea.
But the magistrate would have none of that, thus leaving him with no alternative but to appeal to the High Court.
At the time he had to plead to the rape charge, Talimo assured the court he was pleading guilty out of his own free will. He also acknowledged that by pleading guilty he could face life imprisonment.
He told the magistrate that on the afternoon of the incident he saw a child sitting in front of her home in Daveyton. He took her to his room, which he rented in the area. He then removed her clothes and raped her.
“I used a condom as I knew the child was only 8,” he said.
In citing his reasons for wanting to withdraw his guilty plea, Talimo said he was “wrongly influenced” by his mother.
He said she had negotiated with the family of the complainant to plead guilty, so that the charge could be withdrawn against him. He also indicated that he did not commit the rape.
“When I heard that the matter would be withdrawn if I confess, I grabbed that opportunity.
“To my surprise, things did not happen as I hoped,” he told the judge.
On appeal, his lawyer argued that his explanation, which was influenced by his mother, to plead guilty was reasonable and it should have persuaded the trial court to change the appellant's plea to that of not guilty.
Asked why he did not earlier change his plea to not guilty, Talimo blamed the interpreter, who he said “does not speak the same Sotho language as his”.
He also asked the court to send him to the Sterkfontein psychiatric hospital and stated that he did not want to go back to Modderbee Correctional Centre, where he had a problem with the food.
Acting Judge PD Phalane said in his appeal judgment that, although an accused may change his or her plea at any time before sentence, in the circumstances of this matter, Talimo’s conduct – which led to him wanting to change his plea – was suspicious.
“He understood the consequences of his plea of guilty and there is nothing in his statement which indicates that there was a material contradiction to what was intended, or a defence or an element of outside influence,” the judge said.
He confirmed Talimo’s guilty verdict and life sentence.