Convicted Serial Child Rapist Finally Gets Jailed

cold case rapist gets three life sentences plus 36 years and six months

Stolen Future: A rapist who repeatedly attacked his minor stepdaughter in Johannesburg will remain in jail for a long time after court ruled his original sentence was too lenient.

In Brief

  • After more than a decade, a child rapist and tormentor has finally gone to jail. Sentenced in 2009 for a hundred years in prison for rape and freed on extended bail pending an appeal, John Harold Kotze avoided prison up to this year by refusing to file his appeal papers
  • uSpiked’s advocacy led the National Prosecuting Authority to compel Kotze to file the appeal. A three-judge bench handed him three concurrent life sentences plus thirty-six years and six months
  • We strongly believe social services should have done more to protect the vulnerable girl (a victim of crime) as stipulated in the Service Charter for Victims of Crimes and Violence
  • Criminologist and professor of victimology, Jaco Barkhuizen, says the Charter falls short in some areas, for instance, there is no State compensation for victims of crimes when relevant public institutions fail to ensure safety and security

WARNING: This report may offend sensitive readers.

In June last year we revealed how a serial child rapist, John Harold Kotze then aged 55, had exploited a legal loophole to avoid serving his conviction for the multiple rapes of his stepdaughter. When we first raised the case with the judicial authorities, there was enough buck-passing, but we did not give up.

To recap what had transpired, a high court in Johannesburg had found Kotze guilty of three (3) counts of indecent assault, three (3) counts of attempted rape, three (3) counts of rape, one (1) count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and one (1) count of contravention of Section 39 of Act 75 of 1969, pointing a firearm. In sentencing, South Gauteng high court’s Judge Coetzee had condemned him to a total of one hundred years in jail, which was to be served concurrently hence an effective 18 years in jail.

Soon after the sentencing, the convicted rapist sought leave to appeal and an extension of his bail, both of which were granted. And that was when the exploitation of the system commenced. He never filed his appeal papers and because he was not an Oscar Pistorius, nobody noticed this anomaly. So from October 22, 2009, Kotze roamed the streets of Johannesburg’s Eldorado Park, possibly targeting other victims.

uSpiked’s advocacy for justice to prevail in this case is in our report titled, ‘How a Convicted Sex Pest has Eluded Jail’. Soon after our report, the National Prosecuting Authority got its act together and the convict was compelled to file his appeal papers. The Office of the Judge President of South Gauteng High Court promptly constituted a three-judge bench to listen to the appeal.

When the appeal was first set for hearing, the convicted rapist had one final card to play - he informed the three judges that he would be representing himself at the hearing, that he didn’t need any legal assistance. But, the three judges, Matojane J, Satchwell J and Phatudi J, knew exactly what would have followed. Kotze was creating ground for a constitutional challenge for an appeal he knew would go against him. The judges gave him the option to engage a legal aid advocate or his bail would be reconsidered. And so he engaged one.

The appeal was finally heard on May 28, 2015. Unsurprisingly, there were no protesting women rights activists or those organisations we recently saw during the much-publicised Oscar Pistorius’ appeal. The proceedings finally went on and smoothly. The victim in this case, whom we still call P*** and her rapist were not prominent enough to elicit grave public concern.

Not innocent: John Harold Kotze raped his child for years until the long arm of the law caught up with him.

A day before the appeal court judges handed down their ruling, and seemingly to avoid more embarrassing moments, the Johannesburg offices of the National Prosecuting Authorities worked stealthily behind the scenes in collaboration with the Department of Correctional Services to ensure that Kotze was in court. He was picked from his Eldorado Park home and locked up overnight pending the ruling. Whichever way the appeal court ruling was to be, the State was not taking any chances of the convicted rapist disappearing without a trace; after all he had eluded justice since his conviction in 2009.

In their ruling, the three learned judges noted the fact that the trial magistrate was of a ‘Child Specialised Court’. They agreed with the observation of the magistrate; “The Magistrate noted that the fact that complainant kept quiet about her sexual abuse for a long period is not an isolated incident as there are many instances where children who had been exposed to long periods of sexual abuse, as in this case, remain silent, purely because they are under the control of their parents who support them financially and emotionally and as a result remain silent and do not report these cases.”

While the learned judges agreed with the trial magistrate, they found no reasons why the sentencing judge had deviated from the prescribed minimum sentences for the rape counts. The sentencing judge had erred in imposing eighteen years for each count of rape as opposed to life sentences.

When the learned judges were done, child rapist John Harold Kotze found himself facing three life sentences for the repeated rape of his stepdaughter and affirmation of sentences in relations to two counts of indecent assault (six years each), three counts of attempted rape (eight years each), one count of pointing a firearm (six months) and one count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

When the judges’ gavel went down, the serial child rapist was led to prison to begin serving his three concurrent life sentences plus thirty-six years and six months.

The case is more than the conviction, however. Victim P*** was let down by the society. The awful reality is that there are other victims like P*** all over the country. Children rely on adults for protection. But in her case, the adults in her life inflicted the injuries she suffered. The state failed her, not once, but as repeatedly as the torment she had gone through.

After social workers sensed that something was amiss in the home, P*** (then just seven years old) and her younger siblings were removed from the vicinity of the rapist. But the system abandoned them and they ended back with their tormentor. Even after the matter was reported and a statement taken from her in 2001, the state left her in the custody of an abusive stepfather.

We should all take responsibility 365 days in a year

The court records indicated that the night after she recorded her statement, Kotze once again raped her. Why didn’t the state seek sanctuary for her?

Then even after his conviction in 2009, Kotze, as we had reported in the earlier report, sought her out, intimidated her and even filed some bogus cases against her. She was failed. It is for that reason that we consulted criminologist and professor of victimology, Jaco Barkhuizen.

We sought to understand from Prof. Barkhuizen what responsibility the state has towards victims of crime as stipulated in the Service Charter for Victims of Crimes and Violence, which was approved by Cabinet and launched on November 21, 2007.

While praising the Charter as a step in the right direction, Prof. Barkhuizen also pointed out several inadequacies therein. Key among them is the lack of direction on when the State is obligated to compensate victims of crimes, especially of children and women who would not have been victims had the state tried its level best to ensure their safety and security. “In the case of this victim, the State didn’t seem to have done enough. This Charter needs to be tested in court, a prospect that is highly unlikely considering the inability to access justice by weak members of the society.”

Prof. Barkhuizen has offered his expertise to explore means of strengthening and empowering the Charter. But until then, victims like P*** shall remain broken and disempowered.

For the complete Appeal Court Rulling CLICK HERE.