WINDHOEK – Supreme Court judges upheld an appeal by the State against the sentence of a child rapist on Wednesday and increased the sentence of the rapist by five years.
The State petitioned the Supreme Court after the High Court denied its appeal and then denied an application to appeal to the Supreme Court after Vasco Kangulu Libongani was sentenced in the Katima Mulilo Regional Court to 12 years behind bars for the repeated rape of a 10-year-old girl.
It was charged Libongani, who was 21 years old at the time of the rape, repeatedly snuck into the girl’s sleeping hut and threatened her with a knife to let him have his way with her.
He was discovered when he tried to violate the girl for a second time in one night during September 2004 and the girl cried out alerting her parents who stayed in another hut about five metres away.
The girl’s father investigated the scream and found Libongani in the hut who somehow managed to flee from the scene, but was arrested at a later stage.
During the trial in the Regional Court in Katima Mulilo, Libongani in effect admitted to the deed when he asked the girl in cross-examination whether it was he or she that bled during the act, Judge Sylvester Mainga, who wrote the judgement with Deputy Chief Justice and Acting Judge of Appeal Elton Hoff concurring, found.
He said while the High Court found the magistrate was correct when he convicted Libongani of only one rape instead of the multiple rapes he was charged with, substantial and compelling circumstances warranted a departure from the prescribed 15-year sentence.
In this case, where the rape was committed with a degree of aggravation and viciousness it would call imperatively for the most extreme punishment, meaning more than the minimum sentence prescribed by the legislature, the judge stated.
Judge Mainga noted that in his view the sentence of 12 years was inappropriate as rape is an ugly offence especially when it involves a child, which makes it even worse.
He said what made matters worse was that Libongani, despite implicating himself in the commission of the offence, never showed remorse and denied the offence beyond conviction.
This and the fact the magistrate found the complainant was raped more than once and twice in one evening should have resulted in a sentence exceeding the prescribed minimum, Judge Mainga ruled.
“Those who preside over similar matters should bear in mind that the legislature has set its face firmly against crime of this nature. The Act has among others its purpose to combat and eradicate rape where possible. Rape is a very serious offence and should be punished severely,” stated Mainga.
According to Judge Mainga, he associates himself with the sentiments that rape and the murder of women, wherever the crimes rear their ugly faces, should be visited with severe punishment.
The judges of appeal granted the appeal and replaced the 12-year sentence with one of 17 years.