Step dad rape accused 'stole' girl

The stepfather of a 10 year-old girl he is accused of raping ran away with the little girl from her maternal family.
The stepfather of a 10 year-old girl he is accused of raping ran away with the little girl from her maternal family.
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The maternal family of a 10-year-old girl who alleges she was raped as many as 900 times by her stepfather had tried for years to wrest her from his grip.

The Verulam Magistrate's Court yesterday heard that the 44-year-old mechanic - charged with a raft of rape and sexual assault charges - had run off with the child and "assumed custody" of the girl after her mother had died.

The revelations were made by state prosecutor Advocate San Bhartu, who was delivering her closing argument in the man's application for bail.

"He had assumed custody of the victim in order to abuse and manipulate her," she told magistrate Irfaan Khalil.

"He frustrated attempts by the victim's family and resorted to threats and physical violence against those who tried to make contact with her. His nomadic lifestyle made it impossible for her family members to maintain contact with her," she added.

He had, according to Bhartu, spirited the girl away from her mother's funeral and had been in the wind ever since.

He was arrested three weeks ago at his Rietvlei home after the girl confided in a neighbour about the alleged abuses.

The widower faces charges of rape, sexual assault, sexual grooming of a minor and exposing a minor child to pornography, with the state poised to add more charges.

He is also charged with child abuse relating to allegations that he prevented her from attending school. He cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the child who is in a place of safety.

Bhartu argued the man had failed to put forth compelling and exceptional circumstances that warranted his release on bail.

His legal aid attorney, Mondli Mthethwa, said his client would not attempt to evade trial and would not interfere with witnesses if he was released.

"The approach of the courts should always be to grant bail where it is possible. It would be possible - in respect of this matter - to grant the applicant bail because of the presumption of innocence," Mthethwa said.

"The evidence before the court is exceptional and in the interest of justice the accused must be released on bail. I would ask that the court be aware that bail applications are non-penal in nature," he added.

Khalil is expected to deliver his ruling on the application today.

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