A 62-year-old man was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Khayelitsha Regional Court after raping his foster daughter for more than 10 years.
The man, whose name is not being released to protect the child’s identity, lived with his wife and four other foster children.
“The state argued that he sexually abused and raped the victim since she was seven years old until she reported it to a social worker when she was 17 years old. The social worker reported the case to the police,” says Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the national prosecution authority. The victim was sent to several homes before she was placed with the accused and his wife.
The victim, supported by the court preparation officer Nonceba Dingiswayo, presented several cases of sexual abuse to the court. She thought it was “normal”. “It was her normal.”
Public prosecutor Ilana Bester told the court that she was 11 years old when her foster father first had intercourse with her. The only times he let her out were when the accused’s relatives from the Eastern Cape came to visit.
She told her foster mother and members of the community what was happening, but instead of reporting the matter to the police, meetings were held at home and promises were made that she would not be raped again.
The accused apologized and she was told not to tell anyone – otherwise the Department of Social Development would remove her from the house.
“She was raped three to four times a week and she also had to make food for the accused,” Bester told the court. “She felt no one believed her and out of fear she just did what she was told to do.”
When she went to high school, she began to write down her feelings in a diary and began to record the days and times of the rapes.
She was forbidden to make friends with any other children and she still had to make food for the accused and was repeatedly raped.
When she was 17 years old, she attended an after-school drama concert and arrived home late. She asked her mother to also attend the concert, but when a learner transport driver dropped her off at home, the accused stormed out of the house, cursed the driver and accused his foster daughter of being promiscuous. He accused her of having an extramarital relationship with the manager.
The next day she approached a social worker and revealed what had been happening to her for years. It was the first time anyone believed her.
“The accused and his wife have been arrested. The woman was arrested on charges of failing to report the sexual assault of a child. She entered into a plea agreement with the state and was sentenced to five years of correctional supervision.”
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the accused repeatedly changing his legal representative, his case only came to light this year.
Bester called the social worker and the victim’s relatives to testify. The relatives confirmed that she had told them what was happening to her, but they were afraid that they would be punished if they told anyone else.
The victim is now 22 years old. She studies financial management and has formed a strong bond with the public prosecutor, with the court preparation officer and the investigation officer.
In aggravating sentencing, she told the court she felt it was her fault and if her biological mother had never given birth, this would never have happened to her. She distrusts black men and feels emotionally dead. She feels that many people never believed her; she only experienced acceptance when she was believed for the first time. She thanked the state that she finally felt like she was part of a family.
The court determined that she must receive ongoing counselling.