Acting North Gauteng High Court judges A van Niekerk and J Kruger confirmed the father’s conviction on a charge of rape, but replaced his life sentence with a 15-year jail term.
The 40-year-old father in 2010 pleaded guilty to raping his 15-year-old daughter. He admitted enticing her into his room, which he locked before raping her after turning up the volume of the music playing to mask any sound she might make.
Afterward, he threatened to kill her if she disclosed the incident to anyone. It was only after his daughter discovered that she was pregnant with his child that she identified her father as the person who had raped her. She later underwent an abortion.
A social report said the incident had a huge emotional impact on the girl, who battled with low self-esteem, a sense of loss and powerlessness, anger and hostility, a sense of guilt and shame and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
The father, a first offender, was described as a withdrawn, quiet and secretive man who displayed no emotion and harboured a sense of anger directed towards his wife. The judges quoted nume-rous judgments in cases involving rapes within the family circle where life sentences were replaced with lesser prison terms on appeal.
There was nothing before them to refute the proposition that the father was capable of rehabilitation, a prospect that would be denied him should he be sentenced to life imprisonment.
The rape, while an act of violence in itself, had also not been accompanied by any other physical violence or injury to the victim, they said. The judges stressed that the case sat on the cusp of a minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment, where the victim was under the age of 16, and the 10-year minimum sentence prescribed in cases of rape where the victim was aged 16 or older.
“The sentencing court cannot… assume that the prescribed sentence is proportionate in each instance; on the contrary, it may well be that the prescribed sentence is seldom proportionate,” they said.