A Chadibe father found guilty of fondling his teenage daughter’s breasts and vagina before begging her for sex was on Wednesday jailed for three years.
Although he had pleaded not guilty to the offence 45-year-old Oakile Ketshwenyegile was convicted on the ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the state.
Describing the father’s actions as ‘saddening and disgusting,’ Francistown magistrate Kgololesego Segabo expressed his alarm at the increase in cases of sexual abuse of minors. He said that there was a need for the courts to impose punitive retribution against the culprits.
“It is a sad case indeed. In my view it was by sheer luck that the accused person did not have sexual intercourse with his own daughter,” he added.
The magistrate, who had earlier described the girl as a credible and truthful witness who only wanted justice to take its course, told the convicted man: “You let your daughter down. You betrayed the trust she had bestowed on you as a father and protector for years. She had to run away from home in fear of you. I do not think your daughter will ever trust you in future.”
According to evidence led in court Ketshwenyegile, who admitted to three previous convictions of common assault and another of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, separated from the girl’s mother in 1999 when their daughter was only two years old. She was 17 at the time of the incident.
The two were living together in a single room in Chadibe when the offence, which was reported to a neighbor and later to the girl’s teacher, took place in June last year.
In a series of rhetorical questions Segabo asked: “How can a man want to have sexual intercourse with his own daughter? How can a man find it proper to fondle the breasts and vagina of his underage daughter? This behaviour challenges the moral fibre of our society. What is happening in the society?”
In conclusion he added: “Children must remain children not wives no matter the circumstances. Children must be protected by the law, and offences against children, especially sexually related ones against minors must be condemned in the strongest terms.”
NEIGHBOURS CONDEMN SENTENCE AS TOO LENIENT
The three-year prison term imposed on Ketshwenyegile has left neighbours of the convicted man disappointed at what they consider to be a lenient sentence.
Although the charge of indecent assault carries a maximum sentence of five years, residents of Chadibe village, 45km northwest of Francistown, described the lighter sentence as an insult to the victim.
Commenting on the sentence one neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “We were looking forward to him getting at least ten years in jail. That would send a clear and loud message to fathers who cannot hold their horses. Betraying a girl child who looked up to him for guidance and protection was horrendous.”
The villager described Ketshwenyegile as a womanizer and a wolf in a sheep’s skin, who looked innocent although his deeds behind the closed doors were ‘horrible.’
She added that he was a staunch Zion Christian Church (ZCC) member while still staying with another woman and mother to his five-year-old toddler at Mpatane village in Borolong before relocating to Chadibe after being allocated a plot.
“He started smoking dagga and drinking beer. And we warned him on several occasions to stop sharing a single room with his teenage girl. He was bound to be tempted, and indeed he was,” the neighbour said.
She described the girl as a bright student whose performance at school was affected after the assault, and as a consequence failed her form three examination at Tlhalogang CJSS.
She added: “The sentence is ridiculous and an insult to a young girl whose future has been destroyed.
“Students were mocking her at school asking her whether she enjoyed sex with her father. She could not concentrate at school anymore. It is disgusting to learn that the man will spend only three years in jail.”
Another neighbour, who also requested anonymity said:
“The man could approach any woman next to him. He couldn’t care less even if you were his neighbour. At one point he even approached one of my daughters.
“Three years is nothing, he should have got ten. He is not fit to live in the society,” she said.
The girl has since left the village to live with her mother in Francistown.