The Western Cape High Court has found not guilty in the conviction and sentence of a man who repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl.

PHOTO: Jenny Evans / News24

  • A man convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl tried to pass it off as culture, calling the victim his fiancee.
  • He claimed that the girl’s father gave her to him as his wife and insisted that the father said she was 15 years old.
  • He was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of rape, but tried to appeal, citing culture and apparent age confusion.

A man has applied for leave to appeal against a life sentence for raping an 11-year-old girl, claiming her father gave her to him as his wife.

Chifonda Austin also tried to convince the court that he thought the child was 15 because her father told him so.

In his appeal, the Malawian told the Western Cape High Court that his culture allows a girl as young as 15 to marry and that he and the girl were like “love birds” when she moved into his hut in Langa, Cape Town.

When she became pregnant, he said he broke the “good news” to her father.

But in the solitude of the shack, he threatened to throw the girl into the river if she ever told anyone what he was doing to her.

The girl’s terrible secret became known only when, after the rapes in 2016, until 2017, her stomach began to swell.

READ | The father did not know that sex with his daughter was illegal – the court

In its judgment handed down on September 12, the court noted that when people noticed that her stomach was swollen, a pregnancy test was done. She was seven months pregnant.

She gave birth to a boy at great risk to her own life because she had so much blood during the birth that she had to stay in the hospital for a week.

A DNA test proved a 99% chance that her father’s friend was the father.

The sentence stated:

She was told to say goodbye to him, and she only saw him once after that. She was taken from her parents and placed in foster care and is still in foster care.

The Paravski Regional Court found the man guilty of rape, and since the girl was only 11 years old, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. His name will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

The court explained that the girl was born in Malawi and was brought to her father in Cape Town. Her mother stayed behind in Malawi. She never went to school.

She and her father shared a cramped hut in Jo Slovo, Langa. She was so small to them that her father asked his neighbor if she could stay in a spare room in his shack.

This room was full of tires and other objects, but at least father and daughter would have more space.

Her father’s neighbor started to rape her when she moved in, and then calmly dined with her and her father at night, as if nothing had happened.

She was also expected to cook, clean the hut and do his laundry.

When they found out about her pregnancy, the father cried. The surrounding community was also enraged and ordered the man to be removed from work to answer questions.

He was summoned by a security guard at the workplace and was put in a car and taken to Langa.

Everything became very violent, because he was brutally beaten. In the end, the girl’s father ran to call the police because he did not want the man to be killed.

In his appeal, the rapist insisted that the girl, in his opinion, was 15 years old and that her father had given her to him as his bride.

However, the Western Cape High Court found no fault in Paraw’s conviction and life sentence.

“How the appellant, who was over 25 years of age at the time and who, he says, had been living permanently with this 11-year-old child as husband and wife, could have thought that she had the mental maturity and capacity to consent to sexual intercourse was beyond comprehension,” the court ruled.

“He has shown no remorse for his actions.”

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