An East Rand mother has been found guilty of a string of child abuse charges – among them the rape of her then eight-year-old son.
She and the boy’s stepfather – neither of whom can be named, to protect the child’s identity – were both convicted of rape in the High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
She was also found guilty of sexual exploitation, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and child abuse; and he, of sexual assault.
Both pleaded not guilty at trial but the boy’s mother opted not to take the stand in her own defence or to call any witnesses. His stepfather did testify, though, and claimed the boy was a liar. In finding them guilty, Acting Judge Thomas Mathunzi on Wednesday said he didn’t believe the child’s evidence was a fabrication.
He agreed with evidence the state advocate, Adele Barnard, had led, that children of the boy’s age didn’t have the capacity to invent that kind of abuse. The boy’s stepfather had suggested the boy had implicated him
because he was upset after the couple separated. But Mathunzi pointed out that the boy had also implicated his mother.
“[The stepfather’s] version is too far-fetched to be reasonably possibly true and is rejected as false,” the judge said.
The boy suffered years of abuse at the hands of the couple – who raped, molested and assaulted him on multiple occasions over a five-year period, from when he was three years old until he was eight. After landing up at a place of safety in 2017, though, he reported his abuse and the couple were arrested.
During the trial, harrowing evidence was led that the boy was once held for days on end in a “dungeon” at a local strip club, where his mother worked, and that she raped him and allowed other men and women to molest him.
The court also heard how his mother burnt and cut him when he tried to resist her advances, while his stepfather threatened to kill him if he reported his abuse.
The pair face the minimum sentence for the rape of a minor of life imprisonment.