In A society where women and children are treated with disdain and violence, the courts can no longer be seen to be sympathetic or soft on the perpetrators. In addition, nothing but life imprisonment can be appropriate for the rape of a child. This is according to Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Judge Ronel Tolmay, who on appeal confirmed the life imprisonment sentence of Trevor Sekoai, who had been convicted of raping a 9-year-old girl. To make matters worse, the victim was raped in her home in front of her two siblings aged 3 and 4.
The judge said that in an ideal world, the impact of the rape on the two toddlers who witnessed the act would have been investigated and they would have also received psychological help.
“They are victims too,” she said.
One child who witnessed the rape was crying on the bed when members of the community arrived, while the other child had fled out of the window. The judge said it was not known what had happened to that child and whether he was found again. The victim ran to the shebeen where her mother was drinking with friends to tell them she had been raped.
Judge Tolmay said things could have turned out differently if the children had not been left alone at home. The victim told the court that while she and her siblings were sleeping, a man broke the window to their room and raped her.
He then warned her not to tell anyone. He lit a match and she saw his face. She said he asked her what she wanted and she told him a packet of chips. He told her he would go to buy them and left through the broken window.
She and one of the children went through the window, while the other remained in the room, crying hysterically. The victim ran to the shebeen and told her mother who had raped her. They called the police and while some people went to search for the missing boy, the victim and her mother went to the home of the rapist with the police. There they found him in his bed, wearing a pair of pink tights belonging to the victim’s mother. They later found his jeans, which he had left inside the victim’s room.
Sekoai vehemently denied the jeans were his. He said the pink tights belonged to him. He said he had been in his bedroom the entire evening and knew nothing about the rape. However, several patrons at the shebeen said they had seen him there earlier that evening wearing the same jeans found in the victim’s room.
Judge Tolmay rejected his denial and said all fingers pointed at him. A social worker told the court the victim came from a very disadvantaged background. Her mother was jobless and relied on a child support grant. The victim said she felt degraded and victimised and now feared men. She was also afraid to be left alone in the house. The judge said the victim and her siblings who had witnessed the “horrendous act” were from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged part of society.
Had their home had burglar bars and they had not been left alone, the rape might not have happened.