THE man who raped, sexually abused and exposed his stepdaughter to pornography, received a lifeline when the high court in Pretoria overturned his life imprisonment sentence and replaced it with 20 years.
The man “orally raped” the child – then aged about 8 – and the court found that while this was “disgusting”, it did not constitute the “most serious type of rape”.
The man, who cannot be identified in order to protect the victim, denied any wrongdoing. He claimed the child was the one who tried to initiate sexual intimacy with him by “fiddling” with him in the shower. He said he chased her out.
He also claimed he caught her and her friends watching pornography, but said he switched the television off and gave them a scolding.
He said he had been unfairly blamed, and to top it all, had received a “shockingly inappropriate sentence”.
He had been convicted and sentenced in the magistrate’s court in Lydenburg, but turned to the high court to appeal against his conviction and sentence.
His stepdaughter told a very different story and claimed she had been abused over years while her mother was not at home. She had never told anyone as she feared he would harm her and her mother.
It was only after he and her mother divorced that the child revealed what had happened. She then urged her mother not to go to the police, as she still feared him. With the help of a school psychologist, she managed to relate her story. The child later told the court that when her mother was not home, her stepfather always told her to “watch movies” with him. These were pornographic and he instructed her to enact what she saw. This, she said, happened two to three times a week.
On other occasions, she was forced to shower with him and made to perform sexual acts on him. The man, on these occasions, instructed her to run a bath before they showered, so that if her mother returned, she could quickly jump in the bath.
The child also complained that her stepfather gave her unnecessary hidings. This eventually caused her mother to divorce him.
The child testified that she kept quiet as she was also afraid that people would not believe her and think she was “stupid”.
The school psychologist told the court that this was normal behaviour from abused children. It was also normal to fear reprisal and to try to protect the mother from her husband.
The stepfather complained to acting Judge HR Fourie that the child had been able to testify in the lower court through an intermediary and in a so-called children’s room, outside the courtroom.
The judge rejected his claims of sexual advances made by the little girl, as an “absurd tale”.
By Zelda Venter – firstname.lastname@example.org
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