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A 66-year-old man from Pretoria North was found guilty on eight charges of sexual offenses against his former lover’s five-year-old daughter on Thursday in terms of a plea agreement.
Dec Erasmus was found guilty in the regional court in Pretoria North on four charges of rape, two charges of sexual assault and one charge of producing child pornography.
He committed the acts towards the child from December 2021 to March last year at the mother’s house in Pretoria North. The victim was five years old at the time of the rapes.
Erasmus and the 40-year-old mother, whose name is withheld to protect the identity of the child, were arrested together on 18 March last year. Both were denied bail at the time and Erasmus has been in custody ever since.
The mother admitted in a plea statement in December last year that she was present while Erasmus, then her lover, committed the acts with her daughter. She herself also performed sexual acts on her daughter.
Adv. Hanlie du Preez, public prosecutor, confirmed in court that the mother recorded the sexual acts between her lover and her daughter.
“The accused (Erasmus) is visibly engaged in sexual acts in the photographs and in the videos taken during the offences,” said Du Preez.
Since 2019, Erasmus and the mother have had an on-and-off relationship.
The mother was sentenced to four life sentences on four counts of rape. She was also sentenced to 30 years in prison for the charges of sexual assault as well as the production and distribution of child pornography.
Erasmus held a handkerchief in front of his mouth and coughed violently in court on Thursday. He asked magistrate Pierre Wessels if he could place a mask over his mouth because he was not “feeling well”.
Erasmus’ legal representative, Nico Raubenheimer, read the plea statement in court. In it, Erasmus admits that he was in his right mind when he committed the crimes.
“My client admits he voluntarily committed the crimes. He knows what he did was against the law. He understands that the victim, a minor, also did not give consent to the acts,” reads the plea statement.
Erasmus admitted that he had no valid defense for his actions, but that he did repent.
The state and the court accepted Erasmus’ plea. Magistrate Pierre Wessels is expected to sentence Erasmus next week.
Raubenheimer argued in mitigation that Erasmus is not healthy due to his advanced age and also suffers from type 2 diabetes. The accused is also a first offender and came forward himself with his plea statement, without wasting the court’s time and resources, Raubenheimer argued.
Erasmus has a partner with whom he has been in a relationship for the past 25 years and also has a 25-year-old son.
Du Preez argued that the nature and seriousness of the offenses should not be underestimated. She argues that there is no reason why the court should deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence for the charges.
The prescribed minimum sentence for rape is 25 years in prison.
“The defense could not prove any substantial or compelling factors why the prescribed minimum sentence should be deviated from. The aggravating circumstances far outweigh the mitigating circumstances,” says Du Preez.
“We must stand up against these (kind of) criminals. A heavy punishment will send a message to other criminals. Child rape is a serious crime and it must end. It is a crime against a defenseless and innocent child. The victim was only five years old.
“It is also in the interest of the victim that justice is done. The acts to which her little body was subjected – over a period of several months – had a severe psychological effect on her. She knows what happened. These actions were humiliating and degrading.”
The child, who is now seven years old, currently lives with her biological father in Pretoria.