SCA replaces child rapist's six-year jail term with life imprisonment
An Eastern Cape man will spend life behind bars after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned his six-year jail term for raping a six-year-old boy in 2012.
Mzukisi Peli was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the Grahamstown High Court after pleading guilty to raping the boy. The court suspended four years of his 10-year sentence on condition that he was not convicted of the same offence.
In sentencing him‚ the court found that there were compelling and substantial circumstances that warranted the imposition of a lesser sentence. The court also took into account that Peli was a first-time offender and that he had consumed alcohol when he committed the offence.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)‚ however‚ appealed against Peli’s sentence at the SCA‚ arguing that it was too lenient. The SCA on Wednesday upheld the NPA’s appeal and found that the sentence was “shockingly and disturbingly” lenient.
Acting Judge of Appeal Wendy Hughes found that the High Court had committed a serious misdirection when it “unjustifiably decided that the general or neutral factors advanced in mitigation constituted substantial and compelling circumstances sufficient to impose a lesser sentence than the prescribed sentence [of life imprisonment]”.
“I fail to comprehend the high court’s characterisation of the rape of a six year old as not being severe so as to induce a sense of shock.”
The appeal court also found that Peli had failed to hand himself over to the police after the incident and that it was only after four years that he was arrested and pleaded guilty.
“His plea of crime did not arise as a result of remorse but rather because there was overwhelming evidence against him … In my view‚ the respondent’s actions and conduct did not show remorse. This is a case of regret instead of remorse‚” Hughes found.
According to court papers‚ Peli accosted the boy and his four-year-old friend while they were walking to a shop. He took them to a secluded spot where he physically assaulted them.
“He instructed the complainant to remove his trousers and lie on his stomach. Thereafter he raped the complainant anally‚” the papers read.