21 August 2012

South Africa: State Asks for 12 Life Sentences Against Serial Child Rapist

Pleading guilty to raping 11 girls between the ages of two and eight-years-old was a sign of remorse said the advocate representing the 26-year-old rape and murder convict in the Cape High Court today.

Convicted Khayelitsha resident Soyiso Nofemele, who is father to a six-year-old boy and who completed his matric, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of rape, 12 counts of abduction and one count of murder on Monday.

Nofemele, who hid his head under a grey hoodie while photographers were in court, committed the offences between April 2010 and September last year, having used sweets and chips to lure his victims to bushes near Endlovini informal settlement, where most of his victims came from, before raping them.

He was caught shortly after murdering four-year-old Aviwe Speelman in September last year.

Speelman had been strangled and her body left in the bushes close to the Endlovini settlement.

In arguments for mitigation or aggravation of sentencing before Judge Thandaswa Ndita yesterday today, Nofemele's defence lawyer Yasmien Rajap asked the court for leniency due to his youth and his remorse as evidenced by his guilty plea.

He was also a first offender.

Nofemele was young and could be rehabilitated, she said.

She said the accused wanted to change and the court should consider the fact that he had already spent one-year in custody.

"There is enough here for the court to deviate from the minimum sentence. The court should not impose a life sentence," she said.

But Judge Ndita pointed out the impact of Nofemele's offences on his victims' families and their communities and said medical evidence showed that his victims sustained serious injuries.

State prosecutor Samantha Raphels argued that the rapists' age did not warrant leniency in sentencing and his remorse was also questionable.

Raphels said Nofemele's actions had split families apart. The mother of the two-year-old he raped had since divorced her husband and at least one victims' mother was suicidal.

"All the children (raped) are still receiving counselling. It will take time for the complainants to heal and continue life as normal," said Raphels.

"The state is asking for life sentence for each of the counts of rape and murder," she said.

Judge Ndita said sentencing would be handed down on Monday August 27.

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