Convicted rapist Nicholas Ninow was sentenced to life in jail in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.
In handing down sentencing, Judge Mokhine Mosopa found that Ninow had made no compelling submissions to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence for rape.
Judge Mosopa explained that Ninow had blamed his drug usage for his actions, but continued taking drugs while in prison, while awaiting trial, adding he further failed to show he was truly remorseful.
He said that while Ninow had written a poem for the victim and a letter to the family, they never reached their intended recipients and was only brought up in sentencing proceedings.
"To me that is not remorse but that the accused is aware he is facing a hefty imprisonment term."
In considering Ninow's age as a mitigating factor, Mosopa looked at how the crime was committed.
"The accused raped a very young defenceless child. The accused after he was caught flushed the underwear of the complainant down the toilet.
"The viciousness of the way the offence was committed rules out that the accused was immature."
On count one of rape, Judge Mosopa sentenced Ninow to life in prison. On count two, defeating the ends of justice, he got five years and on count three, possession of an illegal substance, Ninow was given an additional five years.
Judge Mosopa ordered that counts one and three will run concurrently. Count two will run consecutively.
He also ordered that Ninow's particulars be added to the sexual offenders' register.
Following the sentencing, the gallery broke out in applause, song and dance, while Ninow's mother and grandmother could be seen holding each other and crying uncontrollably.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane welcomed the sentence.
Mjonondwane said the NPA was happy with the outcome as it had argued that Ninow was not remorseful and although he pleaded guilty, he had not given an honest version of events. The court also rejected his version in his guilty conviction.
Lobby group Not in my Name, which has attended every court appearance since Ninow was arrested, said it was a long journey that finally culminated in justice.
Its secretary-general, Themba Masango, welcomed the sentence, saying the organisation's faith in the justice system had been restored.
"We need to see more of these [types of] sentences happening," Masango said.
He added the country had to keep working until the scourge of violence against women and children came to an end.
"Most importantly, this case was about the little girl. She was mentioning that she was having nightmares about when this monster will come out again.
"We can finally say this monster will never come again, he has been locked in prison and that, for me, will allow me to sleep at night," said Masango.
The EFF also welcomed the sentence, saying the justice system should not show any form of remorse to heartless, cold rapists and murderers of women and children.
"The case is part of the examples of a speedy resolution of rape cases that must inspire all of us to report and see to it that rapists are removed from our society," EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.
"We express our sincere solidarity with the family and victim, hoping that this will help them get closer to some resolution. It will take a very long time for a child to overcome such horror and trauma.
"However, the knowledge that justice was done, and the perpetrator was removed from society for good, gives her a chance to grow up and find her path to healing without this rapist in our midst."
Ndlozi said there were many more Nicholas Ninow's out there, sharing spaces with women and children inside our homes, churches, restaurants, schools and malls.
"All of them must know that justice is coming soon and they will end up where Nicholas Ninow is; spending all their lives in the dungeons of imprisonment without any hope of return to society."
ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete said the sentence was a show of confidence in the judicial system.
He added that even though the judiciary had prevailed, it needed to find a way to make a life sentence actual life behind bars.
The DA said it would continue to fight for the rights of women and children.
"South African women and children are under siege by predators of vile acts of sexual assault and gender-based violence. They often suffer in silence at the hands of a callous government."
The DA hopes that Ninow's sentence sends a strong message to those who commit acts of violence against women and children," said DA spokesperson Refiloe Nt'sekhe.
After a week-long trial in September, Judge Mosopa found Ninow guilty of rape, possession of an illegal substance and defeating the ends of justice.
He was found not guilty of assaulting two Dros employees after he was caught, and a kidnapping charge was withdrawn by the State before the trial commenced.
News24 previously reported that Judge Mosopa had rejected Ninow's version that he was in the bathroom first, doing drugs, when the victim entered and asked to urinate.
He found that Ninow had stalked the victim, followed her into the bathroom and then raped her, making his actions premeditated and not impulsive as he had said in his plea explanation.
"The only reasonable inference the court can draw is that the accused saw the victim playing in the play area, saw her going to the bathroom, followed her and then undressed and raped her," said Judge Mosopa.