By -The son of the former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, Siqokoqela, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for three counts of rape.
Siqokoqela was also slapped with a concurrent two months for contravening a court order.
Mphoko appeared before Bulawayo Regional Magistrate Elijah Singano, who ruled that many of the victim’s constitutional rights were violated.
“Rape remains an extremely serious offence and offenders must be punished. It violates and demoralises the victim. The criminal law and codification act stipulates that for an offence such as rape the courts should issue a sentence of life imprisonment or less,” Singano said while delivering his ruling.
He said that the age difference between Mphoko and the victim is three times hence showing the low morality of the former.
“The accused used threats of death on the victim if she ever disclosed the matter to anyone. The complainant stayed at the accused’s house and looked up to him as a father, and so he violated the trust of the complainant and the family at large.
“The court has to act in the best interest of the child. Many of the victim’s constitutional rights have been violated such as the right to privacy, good health, education, and dignity, I could go on and on. All these have long lasting effects on the minor,” he said.
Singano agreed with the defence mitigation that all three counts should be treated as one during sentencing.
“Lawfully, each count of rape is equal to 10 years in prison and sentencing the accused 30 years for each count will be on the harsh side considering that it is the same victim and in a short space of time. The court is inclined to impose 20 years of imprisonment for all three counts, and unfortunately, the court cannot further suspend this sentence as it will be taken for belittling this serious crime.
“The accused is therefore sentenced to an effective 20 years in prison for count one to three and two months for count four which will be served concurrently with the previous counts,” Singano ruled.
In mitigation, Mphoko’s lawyer Zibusiso Ncube had argued that his client should be given a lesser sentence as he has a medical condition.
“The accused is aged 44 years and lives with a medical condition that needs him to be constantly visiting the doctor. He has a young family with the eldest biological daughter, aged 13 followed by a boy aged 12 and his adopted daughter Sinikiwe Masiye.
“The accused has an immovable property which includes a house in Hillside suburb, Greydot communication company and five cars. When it comes to the rape charges your worship it will be unjust that the court looks at all three counts separately considering their proximity and that there are no specific dates. It is therefore our prayer that these counts be taken as one when it comes to sentencing,” he argued.
Prosecuting Concilia Ncube said the victim is likely to face psychological effects for all her life.
“The offence that the accused person is facing is very serious and has psychological consequences on the complainant. She will have to live with the trauma of what happened for the rest of her life. The accused also violated the complainants’ right to privacy as enshrined in the constitution,” she said.