Social worker urges leniency despite convictions

Three rapists and two burglars were not a danger to society, a social worker told the Grahamstown high court yesterday.

Three rapists and two burglars were not a danger to society, a social worker told the Grahamstown high court yesterday.

Vathiswa Mbanzi, a social worker from Fort Beaufort in Eastern Cape who had prepared pre-sentencing reports on the five convicts, told Judge Ronnie Pillay she did not consider the five men "a threat to society".

Mbanzi testified she had considered their ages, personal circumstances and their social and economic backgrounds in compiling her reports.

She was giving evidence at the sentencing of Akhona Ndashe, 21, and four teenagers convicted of breaking into a Fort Beaufort home and raping and robbing a 16-year-old girl on June 3 last year. All five are from Fort Beaufort.

The four juveniles may not be named because of their ages.

Two of them, aged 17 and 15, were convicted of rape, housebreaking with intent to steal and theft. The other two, aged 15 and 16, were convicted only of the housebreaking with intent to steal charges.

State advocate Selwyn Gounder questioned the validity of Mbanzi's assessment in recommending a "partial" sentence for Ndashe and correctional supervision for the four juveniles.

He pointed out that Ndashe had previously been sentenced to two years in prison for robbery in 2004 by a King William's Town magistrate and was on parole at the time of Fort Beaufort housebreaking and rape.

All five had initially pleaded not guilty, but, in the face of mounting evidence by the state against them, changed their pleas to guilty.

They were then found guilty of the charges.

The victim, who lived with two other young women, was from the Transkei and was attending school in Fort Beaufort when she was attacked.

She was also robbed of a cellphone.

Three advocates and an attorney, funded by the Legal Aid Board, represented all the convicted men.

The hearing continues. - Sapa

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