On November 29, 45 year old Nhlanhla Sibisi lost a long and spirited battle in Regional Court 5 of the Scottburgh Magistrates Court, to prove his innocence on a charge of child rape.
He was finally sentenced to life imprisonment, despite declaring his innocence repeatedly and, at times, aggressively.
In fact, he resisted leaving the court after sentencing until it looked as though he might have to be removed by force. Sibisi, who represented himself throughout his trial, had relied on the testimony of the doctor who had examined the victim, to prove his innocence.
The doctor had been unable to prove that rape had taken place, as there was no DNA to link Sibisi to the victim, and the victim was not a virgin at the time of the encounter with Sibisi.
Sibisi used this report to attack the state’s case against him, but to no avail.
In passing sentence, Magistrate Ngobese stated that Sibisi had abused his position as a senior member in the victim’s household to manipulate her trust in him.
His crime had been premeditated and cruel as he had deliberately preyed on a vulnerable teenager.
Magistrate Ngobese stated that child rape was particularly prevalent in the Umzinto magisterial district and that in South Africa, in general, rape had reached epidemic proportions.
It was the responsibility of the court to impose a sentence that would be seen by the community as befitting a violent crime.
He found no extenuating circumstances that could be used in mitigation of sentence, and rejected the plea that a person suffering from a chronic disease should be afforded special treatment.
Sibisi was granted leave to appeal both conviction and sentence.
He was also granted leave to appeal the order forbidding him to possess a firearm, and the order to have his name entered in the national register of sexual offenders.