PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has stated that courts do not view correctional supervision as a "light" sentence for sexual predators following the outcry by children's rights groups over what they have labelled a "lenient" sentence for a Plettenberg Bay man convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl.
As reported last week, Mike Wise pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years' correctional supervision on 24 January for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl at his Fisantkraal home in 2017, which included "touching the breast and private parts of the victim", according to Western Cape NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.
"In addition, the court sentenced him to three years' imprisonment suspended for three years," Ntabazalila said. The accused was also ordered to pay R18 700 for 22 therapy sessions for the victim, he said, and ordered that no minor children might stay over at his house for the duration of the sentence.
'He showed remorse'
Ntabazalila pointed out that Wise had shown remorse. "He also tried to apologise to the parents … but they rejected it. The complainant was a single child witness who reported the incident relatively long after the fact and nothing to corroborate her story. During consultation, the complainant was not able to recount the events in sufficient detail."
He said the prosecutor consulted the complainant and her parents. "He explained to the parents that the accused intends to plead guilty and that the State will ask the court to consider correctional supervision. Although they (parents) expressed the wish that he be imprisoned they were not strongly opposed to the idea of correctional supervision and requested that he be ordered to pay for the psychologist."
'Strive towards short turnaround time'
Ntabazalila said the NPA prioritises cases against women and children. "There are dedicated prosecutors who deal with these kinds of cases and we always strive to ensure a short turnaround time and convictions in such cases. Our courts do not regard correctional supervision as a light sentence."
Children's rights groups, however, believe the sentence was lenient and say correctional supervision does not work, using as an example a George dentist, Ian Venter, who in April last year was convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy during a sleepover at his home in April 2015 – four months after being sentenced (in December 2014) to four years' house arrest following his conviction on several charges including sex with a minor boy.
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