Pretoria - Two cousins, who brutally raped and hacked their 12-year-old cousin with a garden fork, before bashing in her head and burying her in a shallow grave behind a house, have had their sentences increased after the director of public prosecutions turned to court and argued that the sentences were “shockingly lenient”.
The accused – a woman who was pregnant and 21 years old at the time of the murder, and her cousin, who was 17 at the time – were sentenced five years ago in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
The woman was sentenced to an effective 15 years’ imprisonment at the time and her cousin to 12 years.
The prosecuting authority subsequently turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal, where the woman’s sentence was increased to two life sentences and the then teenager got 51 years in total. But, as he was under age at the time of the gruesome murder, the SCA ordered that he had to serve an effective 23 years.
However, it emerged that after raping and killing his victim – his cousin – while he was out on bail, he raped and stabbed a mentally impaired child. The latter was stabbed more than 20 times and left for dead.
She, however, survived her ordeal.
SCA Judge Mahube Molemela ordered that a copy of the judgment be sent to the prison where the former 17-year-old was serving his jail sentence. This is to be kept as a reference for when he is one day considered for parole.
His second rape and attempted murder of the mentally impaired victim could not serve as aggravation of sentence, as this was committed after he killed his cousin.
But the SCA noted it, as well as the evidence of a forensic psychologist, who testified that the then teenager is deemed a danger to society. It was said that he had the traits of a serial killer and a paedophile.
As the second accused was 17 and thus under age at the time of murdering his cousin, the SCA did not identify him or his older cousin.
The 12-year-old became the victim of the brutal rape and gruesome murder perpetrated on her by her cousins after she came to stay with them, as per usual, for a weekend. They lived in Kwamhlanga together with their uncle, who was away that weekend.
The victim, who was sleeping in a bed with one of the other cousins, was taken out of bed by the pregnant accused and taken outside. There she was so violently raped by the 17-year- old, that an autopsy showed severe injuries to her private parts.
He then stabbed her all over with a garden fork, before both he and his pregnant cousin bashed her head in with a rock.
They tried to dispose of the body in the neighbour’s pit toilet, but when this was not possible, they dug a shallow grave outside the house, where they buried her.
The police made the gruesome finding the next morning, when family members phoned them as the child was missing and there were blood marks in the house.
The woman denied that she was involved, but the teenager confessed and said that she made him do it. The teenager’s girlfriend, who lived with him, was also pregnant at the time.
The woman, in pleading for mercy, said she had a difficult childhood and that she was raped when she was 15.
But Judge Molemela remarked that being a woman who was once a victim of rape, one would ordinarily have been expected to be protective of the deceased.
“Instead, she fetched a child from the bedroom in which she was sleeping, took her outside and orchestrated a vicious attack against her,” the judge said.