Monday, January 25, 2021

Court denies rape convict’s sentences to run concurrently

Three court of Appeal judges have dismissed an appeal in which a rape convict, Negro Sepatela, was seeking the court to reduce his 20 year jail term.

Sepatela is serving 20 years in jail after he was convicted of raping two women at different times.

He was sentenced to 10 years for raping a woman at Letlhakeng in 2006 and was convicted and sentenced to another 10 years for raping a 14-year-old girl in 2008 at Serowe.

Sepatela wanted the sentences to run concurrently but the court refused on grounds that it was possible that he knew when he committed the offence that he would approach the courts to seek his sentence to run concurrently.

The three Justices, Ian Kirby, John Foxcroft and Elijah Legwaila, warned that that Sepatela wanted to take advantage by seeking the court to reduce the years while he knew very well that he committed the offences on different dates.

The judges said that the circumstances of the present rape case are such that Sepatela should not be made to benefit from the reduction of the effective sentences by way of making the sentences run concurrently.

He already had a criminal record, yet he was bold to commit a similar offence while on bail, they said, adding that Court was letting him sleep on the bed he prepared for himself and a total of 20 years was not excessive in the circumstance that he knew that he had a pending matter before the magistrate which he committed in 2006 and a pending trial.

The judges said that an aggravating factor is that while the case was still hanging over his head waiting for a date of trial, he decided to rape yet another woman, adding that the circumstances of the second rape were particularly bad.

They said that he abused a 14-year-old girl who knew him as a traditional doctor, breaking down her door at night and threatening to kill her with a hedge-cutter, before dragging her into the bush, and raping her.

The judges said that someone who rapes a woman and is charged and, even before the commencement of trial, decides to rape yet another woman, is clearly challenging the law to deal effectively with him.

They added that even Parliament has shown its abhorrence for this offence by laying that where rape cases are concerned, there can be no sentences which should run concurrently.

So Sepatela’s two 10-year sentences passed on 26th September 2007 and 17th April 2008 were denied to run concurrently but consecutively, with the last sentence commencing immediately after the expiration of the first sentence.

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