Girl child might be locked away for safety reasons
MBABANE – Unless progressive and consistent measures to curb the alarming increase of rape offences, the day is nigh when girls have to be locked away for safety, Judge Esther Ota has said.
She made the statement when imposing an 18-year sentence against a 37-year-old man who raped an 11-year-old girl. Mandla Gadlela was found guilty of rape. The court was told that Gadlela committed the offence when he was supposed to have acted as a parent.
The incident took place on April 8, 2011. The complainant had returned from fetching water from a nearby well. Upon return, she placed the containers in a house and when she went out to play, Gadlela grabbed and forced her into a house where he raped her. He had pleaded guilty to the offence.
"The 11-year-old complainant was entitled to her play without the threat of any molestation or sexual harassment. However, that is not the trend we see in the kingdom in the recent past. Rather, the sexual molestation of the girl child has reached such heightened level, in the kingdom that if no progressive and consi-stent measures are taken to curb this trend, the day is nigh when the girl child has to be perpetually locked away for her safety in the face of these molestations," Ota said.
She added, "God forbid. May that day never come. Thus the need to discourage this trend by imposing appropriately stiff sentences to serve as a deterrent to others."
Judge Ota said it appeared that notwithstanding the tough stance of Parliament and the courts on the offence, rape offences, especially on young girls were on the increase rather than decreasing. She said Parlia-ment had passed the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which stipulates a minimum nine years for rape convicts, because it recognised the grievousness and ugliness of the offence.
"This was an apparent effort to discourage this dehumanising crime.
"I am firmly convinced that a sentence of 18 years is fitting of the offence committed to serve as a deterrent to other paedophiles who are even now lurking in the corner waiting to pounce on the girl child," Ota said.
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