‘There is no greater crime’ — Court Increases Child Rapist’s Sentence To Life Imprisonment

The Supreme Court of Appeal has increased the sentence of a man who raped a child from 22 years to life imprisonment, finding that the high court could not use a finding that the crime was not one of the ‘worst rapes’ as a mitigating factor.

Child protection activist Luke Lamprecht from Women and Men Against Child Abuse welcomed the sentence.

“The whole idea of minimum sentencing was that some crimes should inevitably result in life imprisonment,” he said.

He added that it was clear that judges were averse to the idea of minimum sentences as it took away their discretion.

“This is a step in the right direction. Previously, judges wanted to see bodily harm. They were not considering the psychological consequences of rape. Now we have reached a level where psychological damage is considered the same as physical injuries,” he said.

“It would be great if we can reach a stage where the victim no longer has to prove aggregation but that the perpetrator will have to work at proving mitigation,” Lamprecht said.

“The reality is that South Africa has five times the global average in violence against women.

There is mounting evidence that these disproportionally high levels of violence against women and children, has immeasurable and far-reaching effects on the health of our nation, and it’s economy.

Despite severe under-reporting, there are 51 cases of child sexual victimisation per day. UNICEF research has found that over a third (35.4%) of young people have been the victim of sexual violence at some point in their lives.

What cannot be denied is that our country is facing a pandemic of sexual violence against women and children. Courts cannot ignore this fact. In these circumstances, the only appropriate sentence is that which has been ordained by statute.”

– Appeal Court Judge Caroline Nicholls