Judge reduces rapist's life sentence to 10 years because 'he deserves mercy'
The court found he deserved mercy because of his personal circumstances.
Presiding over an appeal about a rape that both the rapist’s lawyer and the prosecutor described as “not the most egregious rape”, Judge Nokuthula Sylvia Daniso ruled that life imprisonment was an unjust and disproportionate sentence in this case.
The rapist was named TM in the judgment because he was related to his victim, whose identity needed to be protected. Judge Daniso delivered her ruling in the Bloemfontein High Court.
Convicted and sentenced by the Bloemfontein Regional Court last year, TM sought to have both the guilty verdict and “excessive” sentence set aside.
The rape happened at the victim’s home where TM stayed because he was an orphan. They shared a bed together.
On the night of the rape, the victim ran to his parents’ bedroom to tell them TM had penetrated him while he slept. A medical report indicated that the boy did not sustain injuries to the anus.
This was only because he jumped off the bed when TM tried to penetrate “deeper”, Judge Daniso contended.
The absence of injury meant the boy “was spared the horror of having to endure physical injuries in addition to the mental anguish”.
TM denied raping the boy and accused him of conspiring with his parents to get him out of their home because he was not welcome in it.
Judge Daniso said his claims were improbable because the boy’s parents had provided him with accommodation and even paid for his education.
She also found that the parents’ contradicting versions on who took the boy for medical treatment were immaterial to save TM from a guilty finding.
Judge Daniso outright confirmed the conviction, and had to rule on whether the regional court had grounds to deviate from the sentence of life imprisonment prescribed for those found guilty of raping minors.
“As correctly pointed out by both counsels, despite the fact that this was not the most egregious rape, a prison sentence was unavoidable, the only issue was the duration of the sentence,” said Judge Daniso.
The judge considered TM’s personal circumstances to deviate from the life sentence. These included that he had just turned 18 and was in Grade 9, he was an orphan who lost both parents by the age of 12, and he did piece jobs that earned him R50 a day at the time.
“The absence of parental guidance, love and care is a factor that the trial court should have considered,” said Judge Daniso. “I’m in no doubt that life imprisonment is an unjust sentence in this case,” she said.