Court orders counselling for minor victim
SERIALONG LELUMA RAMPO
MASERU – The Maseru Magistrate Court has ordered that an eight-year-old boy who was raped by another 13-year-old boy should be taken for counselling.The case rape case will only be heard after the victim has received counselling as instructed by the court.The accused minor appeared before court on Friday, October 14, charged with contravention of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act No 7 of 2011.Detailing the incident, the victim’s parents said the victim explained that the rape happened while they were playing with the accused, this after the victim fell sick.
“When we realised that there was something wrong with the boy, we asked him if there was something he could have done when playing that might have hurt him. To our shock he revealed that while they were busy playing with others, the alleged culprit took him to a corner and raped him,” said the parents.
The perpetrator is barely a year older than the prescribed age limit of 12 years under which a child could be considered a ‘doli incapax’ -deemed incapable of forming the intent to commit a crime or offence – especially by reason of age.Section 6(1) of the Penal Code Act of 2012 provides that “a person under the age of seven years is not criminally responsible for any act or omission.
Section 6(2) of the same code further says that “a person above the age of seven years but below the age of 14 years is not criminally responsible for any act or omission unless it is provided that the time of doing the act or making the omission they understood the nature and implications of the conduct, and knowing that the conduct was wrong, they were capable of acting in accordance with that knowledge”A child above 12 years of age has to face an enquiry by a Children’s Court under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Children’s Protection and Welfare) Act.
In accordance with sentences involving imprisonment Section 156 (1) says, “imprisonment for maximum period of three months may be imposed as a sentence for the purposes of this Act provided that this sentence may not be imposed on a child below the age of fourteen years.”
Speaking in an interview with Public Eye on the fate of the accused minor if found guilty in relation his welfare and education, Bokang Ramotena from the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS)’s para-legal division, said the age restriction of the Juvenile Training Centre in Maseru is between 12 and 17 years.
Ramotena further stipulated that there is a school offering education from Standard 1 to Form E at the juvenile centre for children to continue with their studies.“There are also some cases whereby parents of accused children request the court for time to find a lawyer to represent them, as a result cases take time to start. This can even take years until the child is 18 years or above. In that case if found guilty the accused goes to the correctional service, not the juvenile centre.”
“Those children taken to the centre do not go there to serve sentences but rather for detention,” she said.Ramotena said: “It is in rare cases where you will find a child going back to the juvenile centre with the same offence or a different one, by so saying we can say that the centre is really playing a big role for guidance to those children.”
According to the Information Officer at the Maseru Magistrate Court, ’Mampota Phakoe, Section 11(1) of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2011 states that a child has a right to access education, adequate diet, clothing, shelter, medical social services or other services required for the child’s development.
Phakoe said: “On probation of a certain form of sentence, there will be no life imprisonment or death that may be imposed on a child or any person who was below eighteen years at the time the offence was committed. However, a child who has not been sentenced to attend an approved school may not be detained in prison while awaiting designation of the place where the sentence is to be served.”She said there is no imposed monetary penalty payable to the state as a sentence by the Children’s Court or any other court acting under the provisions of the Children’s Act.