Six family members get 16 life terms, 110-year sentence for sexual offences against children

Six relatives have been handed a hefty jail term for sexual offences against children. File photo.
Six relatives have been handed a hefty jail term for sexual offences against children. File photo.
Image: Suhaib Salem

The Pretoria north magistrate's court on Thursday sentenced six family members to a combined 16 life terms and 110-year prison term for “gruesome” crimes against children.

The six consist of a foster couple, aged 70 and 69, along with their four relatives who were collectively convicted of 20 counts of sexual offences against three minors aged between four and nine. 

According to NPA spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana, the offences occurred from 2005 until 2010 when they were arrested.

“Some of the charges they were convicted of were rape, indecent assault, compelled rape, compelled sexual assault, witness sexual acts, sexual grooming as well as child abuse and neglect.

“This was discovered after the six-year-old foster child was taken for school readiness assessment where she disclosed to the educational psychologist that she was being sexually assaulted by her foster parents. After receiving this information, the psychologist reported the matter to the police.

“During the investigation, it was found that the six accused were sexually assaulting both their two foster children and their four biological children. The six were arrested in December 2010 at their residence at Hammanskraal and Bultfontein while the children were then taken to a place of safety,” she said.

They were tried and convicted for offences against only three children. In relation to the other children, the NPA said they were too young to testify.

The six pleaded not guilty in court, but the state was able to provide evidence to prove they had sexually assaulted the children, Mahanjana said.

“In their victim impact statement, the children told the court that what happened to them has affected and continues to affect them, as they now find it hard to trust people and maintain relations. They further told the court that they still suffer from the trauma caused by the six.

“In aggravation of sentence, the prosecutors who dealt with the matter, advocate Cornelia Harmzen and Marie Jonker told the court that the six showed no remorse for their actions [and that they had] subjected their own children to the scrutiny of the court where they had to testify using the intermediary services and relive their trauma.

Mahanjana added that because “the accused were parents to the children, they were in a position of trust, and they betrayed that trust and failed to protect the children”.

In his sentence, magistrate Pieter Nel, said the six committed serious offences against their children over a long period. Such crimes will surely leave a long impact on the victims, thus the sentence given.

The elderly foster parents were slapped with 12 life terms and 95 years’ imprisonment while two of the relatives, a couple aged 43 and 49, were sentenced to four life terms and 15 years’ direct imprisonment.

The last two, 49 and 39, were given a five-year wholly suspended sentence and three years of correctional supervision.

They were not convicted of the same offences as the others. Instead, they were just convicted of child neglect.

“The magistrate ordered that the sentences should run concurrently, that their names be added on the national register for sexual offenders and [they] be declared unfit to possess a firearm,” Mahanjana said.