A 78-year-old former police captain has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape of his then 10-year-old granddaughter nearly two decades ago, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Thursday.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, was sentenced by the Sterkspruit regional court for the rape, which took place 18 years ago.
“Evidence presented in court is that some time in 2002 the police officer, who was 60 at the time and stationed in the neighbouring Free State province, visited his home at Ntabemhlophe village in the district of Sterkspruit,” said NPA regional spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.
“During the said visit, he drove all his grandchildren, including the victim, in his bakkie to visit his parent’s home in the same village.
“When they arrived at his parent’s homestead they found no one, but the houses were open. He called the unsuspecting victim inside one of the houses, leaving other children playing outside. He then raped the minor and thereafter drove back to his home with all the children.”
Tyali said the victim reported the incident to her grandmother, who had been the wife of the rapist. She confronted him about the allegations, which the man denied.
“As a result, the victim was accused of lying about an elderly person and was punished by the grandmother by way of assault with a wooden stick.”
He said the matter remained unreported to the police until November 2016, when the victim decided to report the case, leading to the arrest of the man.
The 78-year-old pleaded not guilty during trial and claimed that he did not even know the victim as she was young and had never met her before.
“He claimed that the child had fabricated evidence against him due to an ongoing family feud,” said Tyali.
State prosecutor Loyiso Methuso led the evidence of the victim, who gave a clear and satisfactory account of the incident, despite the 18-year lapse.
The court convicted the pensioner and found no substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a deviation from the prescribed term of life imprisonment. It also found that the man broke the relationship of trust and failed in his duty to protect the child, as both her grandfather and a police officer.
Tyali said the NPA hoped the matter would set a precedent and encourage other victims of rape to come forward and report, even if they were abused a long time ago.