A 17 year-old boy from Komani Park who was accused of 10 counts of rape and two counts of compelled rape was sentenced to five years’ compulsory residence at a youth centre and an additional five years’ imprisonment last week.
The Rep reported (Young boy accused of multiple rapes, October 10, 2016) that a teenager, who may not be named as he is under age, was accused of raping 21 young children in the Komani Park area, some under the age of 10, with charges dating back to May 2016.
The boy, who was 13 when he committed the offences, pleaded guilty and was convicted on September 27, 2019 on 10 counts of rape and two counts of compelled rape.
The Rep reported (Boy now pleads guilty to one of 12 rapes, January 17, 2020) that the boy had changed his statement, admitting to one count of rape. His then defence attorney requested his withdrawal from the case.
Addressing the accused before imposing the sentence on Thursday last week, magistrate Lungi Mahlathi said rape was an abhorrent crime worldwide. “If you were above 16 at the time of committing an offence I have no doubt that under these circumstances you would have qualified for long-term imprisonment, including life. Do not take this sentence lightly. It is only because of your age at the time that the court is imposing the sentence.”
Mahlathi said after considering submissions and recommendations made, the accused was sentenced to undergo compulsory residence at a youth care centre in Burgersdorp for five years, “where he will receive the kind of care and guidance pleaded for by the defence and prosecution. That will lapse when the accused turns 21. In addition to that, because of the severity of the crime and in attempt to protect those who fall victim to gender-based violence, after serving at the residence and the serving period has lapsed, the court sentences the accused to undergo five years’ imprisonment,” said Mahlathi.
Speaking to The Rep after proceedings, parents of the victims all agreed that justice had been served and they were pleased with the sentence. “We are thankful for the support that Southbourne Primary School principal Marelise Bekker has given us. If it were not for her we would not have known this was happening. Justice has been served after such a long time,” said one of the parents.
Bekker urged children to speak up about such issues. “This helps to form a support group to show that together we have one voice. The education department must know that our work as teachers goes beyond our school grounds. We need to take care and look after the wellbeing of our children. I am happy that finally there is closure. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. I have pupils who are victims who still need counselling. This is definitely not the end of our journey.”