The words of a Nigerian drug lord and serial rapist left everyone in the court dumbfounded. Several cases of abuse, from teenage rape to child trafficking and multiple involvement in drug deals surfaced.
The prisons are already overcrowded and this affects taxpayers‚ Advocate Sechaba Mokhachane told the South Gauteng High Court.
“The victim was already sexually active before meeting the accused. She was promiscuous‚” said Mokhachane as he pleaded with the court to give his client‚ Eke Ugochukwe‚ a lighter sentence.
The victim is now 17 years old.
The slight teen‚ with neat cornrows and neatly groomed eyebrows‚ sat next to her mother‚ who shook her head in shock.
“So what? That means she should be exploited?” Judge Majake Mabesele lashed out.
Mokhachane said Ugochukwe had been in the country for eight years‚ was a first-time offender‚ had a three-year-old son and provided for his mother back in Nigeria.
During the trial‚ Ugochukwe had testified that he made a living by selling drugs to prostitutes‚ but on Friday his lawyer said he now plied his trade buying and selling vehicles.
“But he said in his own words that I am making a living through drugs. It was not past tense‚” said Mabesele.
Mokhachane said it could have been a language barrier‚ but the judge rejected this‚ saying the interpreter was present throughout the proceedings.
Mabesele wondered how many lives Ugochukwe had destroyed through his drug sales.
“I don’t know‚” Mokachane replied.
“And you say I should give him a fine?” Mabesele replied.
The judge found it ironic that Ugochukwe himself did not consume drugs because he knew of the dangers.
“He was trying to make a living off people who were already in prostitution‚” Mokachane said in response.
“He needed to survive. He needed to make a living.”
Mabesele said he also found Ugochukwe’s new business dealings interesting.
“This is interesting. Buying and selling cars isn’t that easy… How is he buying and selling cars?” Mabesele asked.
Mokhachane said the accused had gone into the drug dealing business to get capital in order to get his car-selling business off the ground.
The judge argued that drug dealing was the worst possible crime.
“It is worse than premeditated murder because a person‚ especially a minor’s‚ mind‚ spirit and body is destroyed. It is better when a person is dead‚” Mabesele said.
Ugochukwe was not‚ however‚ tried for drug-related offences‚ since no such substances were found in his home or in his possession during his arrest.
The Sebokeng teen at the centre of the trial had found herself embroiled in prostitution under Ugochukwe after running away from home following a fight with her mother.
She accompanied her 16-year-old friend‚ who was in a relationship with Ugochukwe‚ to Rosettenville.
The house turned out to be a brothel and her friend was also a prostitute.
The victim claimed to have been deserted by her friend at the Rosettenville brothel and kept against her will‚ along with at least three other prostitutes.
She used drugs and prostituted herself for R50 per client‚ handing over her earnings to Uguchukwe‚ whom she knew as Jimmy.
Evidence from the teenager was that the accused‚ as well as all her clients‚ had sex with her without her consent.
After a two-month ordeal‚ the girl became sickly and ran away from the brothel and took refuge in a church.
Ugochukwe was found guilty of child sexual exploitation‚ living from the earnings of sexual exploitation‚ being an accomplice to rape‚ and contravening the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act.
The case is a first of its kind under the new Act.
The Act came into operation on 9 August 2015.
Before this date‚ there was no specific legislation governing human trafficking in South Africa.
The state has called for the toughest sentence to be imposed.