WATCH | Cheers in court as Dros rapist Nicholas Ninow gets life
Dros rapist Nicholas Ninow showed no remorse for raping a seven-year-old girl in a restaurant toilet cubicle and should spend his life behind bars.
This was the ruling of judge Papi Mosopa, who handed down the sentence in the high- profile case shortly after 3pm on Thursday. The ruling was met with cheers from the gallery.
Ninow admitted to raping the girl at a Dros restaurant in Silverglen, Pretoria, last year.
Mosopa also handed Ninow five-year sentences for drug possession and for defeating the ends of justice. They are to run concurrently with the life sentence. It was also ordered that Ninow's name be added to the sexual offenders' registry.
Mosopa said the evidence was "overwhelming" against Ninow.
LISTEN | Dros rapist sentenced to life imprisonment
According to Mosopa, Ninow showed no remorse for his actions.
"Gender-based violence is a pandemic and courts should not be shy to impose sentences that will deter others from committing the same offence," he said.
Mosopa said the psychologist who assessed Ninow used remorse and regret interchangeably, which he said did not have the same meaning.
"In order for remorse to be considered, the accused must take the court into his or her confidence," said Mosopa.
Loud cheers and song erupted in the public gallery soon after Mosopa handed down sentence. Ninow's mother and grandmother embraced each other and sobbed uncontrollably.
Mosopa's sentence was welcomed by the National Prosecuting Authority, advocacy group #Notinmyname and political parties.
"We think this was a correct judgment. It was long coming. We are happy. We are relieved. This has restored our confidence in the judiciary," said #Notinmyname spokesperson Themba Maseko.
The ANC's Dakota Legoete said the sentence was a "show of confidence of our judicial system and their capacity to ensure they administer law and justice".
NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said they were satisfied that they had successfully convinced the court that a life imprisonment sentence was appropriate.
"This is a rape of a minor. We managed to prove it was premeditated and the accused had every intention to rape the minor," she said.
The EFF said the NPA should have added another charge of attempted murder so that Ninow could get a harsher sentence.
"We need to push in parliament for amendments for every law that affect gender-based violence," the party said.
Mosopa said that the victim was scared of being in the company of men because of what Ninow had done to her, and that Ninow had violated a child he should have protected. He said rape was a degrading offence and was worse when committed on a vulnerable child.
Mosopa said Ninow appeared to be a broken person.
"The person who was supposed to protect him introduced him to drugs," he said, in reference to evidence that Ninow's mother had brought drugs into his life.
The girl - according to forensic social worker Karen Botha, who compiled a victim impact assessment report on the girl and her family - has nightmares about Ninow every night, the court heard earlier on Thursday as part of arguments on mitigating and aggravating circumstances.
"She says she still sees the accused when she goes to bed," Botha said.
The court earlier heard that Ninow had a "chaotic" childhood, and was exposed to drugs by his mother. He was also sexually abused.