A 78-year-old retired police captain was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Sterkspruit Regional Court on Wednesday for raping his then-10-year-old granddaughter more than 18 years ago
According to a statement by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, was a 60-year-old police officer stationed in the Free State at the time of the incident.
During his trial, it emerged he had travelled home to Ntabemhlophe village in Sterkspruit, Eastern Cape, where he picked up all his grandchildren, including the victim, and drove them to his parents' home in a bakkie.
"When they arrived at his parents' homestead, they found no one, but the houses were open. He called the unsuspecting victim inside one of the houses, leaving the other children playing outside. He then raped the minor and thereafter drove back to his home with all the children," NPA spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said.
The victim told her grandmother what had happened, but when she confronted her husband, he denied he had raped his granddaughter.
"As a result, the victim was accused of lying about an elderly person and was punished by the grandmother by way of assault with a wooden stick."
The case went unreported for 14 years, until 2016, when the victim decided to report it to the police.
The then-retired police captain was subsequently arrested.
He pleaded not guilty and claimed he did not even know the victim because she was young, according to Tyali.
He contended he had never met her before, or in 2002, and the victim had fabricated evidence against him due to an ongoing family feud.
"Advocate Loyiso Methuso, for the State, led the evidence for the victim, now 28 years old, who gave a clear and satisfactory account of the incident, despite the 18-year lapse," Tyali said.
The court found the man guilty of rape in March this year.
During sentencing, it found there were no substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a deviation from the minimum prescribed sentence for rape, which is life imprisonment.
"The court held that the man broke the relationship of trust and failed in his duty to protect the child, as both her grandfather and a police officer.
"The court took into account the pre-sentence report presented by the probation officer at the defence's request, but found that the aggravating factors far outweighed the mitigating circumstances."