Man handed life sentence for raping mentally challenged stepdaughter

Members from various political parties and of the general public protest outside the Pretoria Magistrate's Court where Nicholas Ninow, the man accused of raping a 7-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Dros restaurant appeared briefly on November 01, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo by Gallo Images/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO:Women protest outside the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court where Nicholas Ninow, the man accused of raping a 7-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Dros restaurant appeared briefly on November 28, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa./Gallo Images/Getty Images

South African court has jailed a 60-year-old man for life for raping and sexually grooming his mentally challenged stepdaughter.

The man was sentenced in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday for the rape of a 23-year-old close relative between 2008 and 2016.

He was also sentenced to 16 years for sexually assaulting and grooming her and other acts.

The man was convicted in May of rape, sexual assault, sexual grooming and exposing the stepdaughter to child pornography.

The victim is clinically diagnosed as having the cognitive abilities of a 6-year-old girl.

Handing down judgment, Judge Francois Du Plessis said the accused abused the trust the victim had in him.

“Although he was charged with and convicted of one count of rape, it is clear that the complainant was raped on more than one occasion during the period 2008 and 15 April 2016,” Du Plessis said.

He said the sexual abuse started when she was 13 years old and lasted until she was 19, when she first disclosed what was done to her.

Du Plessis added that it was clear that the accused groomed the child by showing her pornographic videos and also exposing her to masturbating.

During sentencing, the convicted rapist maintained his innocence, claiming that the victim and her mother were lying and that she had been coached.

Aggravating circumstances overshadowed the mitigating ones

Du Plessis said it was an accused’s right to profess innocence but in a case such as this one, that may reflect negatively.

“In my view, what may, however, be regarded as aggravating, is his persistence in representing the complainant and [the mother] as liars. He went so far as to relate certain allegations which have not been produced in this trial on the merits,” the judge said.

He said the accused’s allegations were false and humiliated and degraded the victim and her mother.

The accused wanted a non-custodial sentence on the grounds of his age and medical condition, arguing that there were no psychiatric services available in prison.

However, evidence the State presented indicated that there were such services available.

The accused also argued that the court should be lenient because of poor conditions in prison for a person of his age. However, Du Plessis said the conditions in jail were a burden to all prisoners and a matter for the government executive to address.

The mother of the victim welcomed the sentence, saying she is pleased that the accused will never be able to hurt any other child, although no amount of punishment handed to him will undo what he did to her daughter.

“[She] suffered severe post-traumatic stress, and she will be going into therapy as from January. She is better now.”