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Durban - A Chatsworth man accused of raping a 12-year-old was denied bail moments ago in the Durban Magistrate's Court. 

In June this year, she was allegedly raped by a 58-year-old man whose name appears on the National Register of Sex Offenders.

But, because the register was not made public, neither she nor those around her knew he was twice convicted of sexual assault.

The first conviction was in 2014, the second in 2017.

He appeared in the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court on Friday on allegations of raping the girl. The man, who sells clothing and linen, cannot be named at this point, neither can the victim.

It emerged during the bail application that in June he lured the 12-year-old and three other girls to his home in Chatsworth under the pretext of needing help to clean his house.

The State will try to prove he took the girls to his bedroom one at a time, where he abused them. He then gave each of them R50 and sent them home. Only the 12-year-old told her family what had happened. The matter was then reported to the police.

The unmarried man denied the rape allegation.

Questioned by his attorney, Shameer Goolabjith, he told the court he was a “law-abiding citizen”.

He told the magistrate that on the day of his arrest he was called to the Bottlebrush area by two prospective clients.

However, when he got there, he was assaulted and robbed.

He said he was badly hurt, but managed to flee to a nearby mall where someone called the police on his behalf. He was subsequently arrested.

He told the court he did not know why the police arrested him and denied the allegation of rape.

While the man wants to be released on bail, State prosecutor Avinash Gangai argued against it.

“He poses a danger to members of the community, specifically children. We say that because of the accused’s criminal record.”

Gangai told the court that in 2013 the accused sexually assaulted three girls, aged between 9 and 10.

He did so also after taking them home on the pretext of helping him clean his house. He called each of the girls to his bedroom, performed oral sex on them, gave them chocolates and money and told them to leave.

He pleaded guilty to sexual assault in June 2014 and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years.

Then, in December 2016, he was arrested on two counts of sexual assault. He once again took girls, aged 13 and 14, to clean his home. Once again he took them into his bedroom, fondled them and made them perform oral sex on him. He gave them R30 each and left them along the Durban beachfront.

He pleaded guilty to sexual assault in September 2017 and was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years.

In addition to the convictions of sexual assault, Gangai said the accused had 14 previous convictions. Of these, 13 were drug-related matters and one was theft-related.

During cross-examination in the bail application, Gangai asked the accused: “How are you a law-abiding citizen? The (current) allegation is precisely the same modus operandi you used to lure victims to your house. It is the same modus operandi to which you pleaded guilty to before.”

Gangai said given the man’s history, it was likely he would commit the same offence again.

“Moreover, he poses a danger to the community, specifically young females. He was given serious sentences, but it did not deter him and he continued with his deviant behaviour.”

Divya Naidoo, the child protection programme manager at Save the Children South Africa, said this matter highlighted the shortcomings in the criminal justice system.

“It is just unacceptable. Why did he get a second suspended sentence? These other incidents could have been prevented after it happened the first time.

“The system has failed our children, and resulted in them and their families not reporting the assaults because they feel justice will not be served and their perpetrators will be released with just a slap on the wrist,” she said.