Accused is not a first offender and has a 'long history of previous convictions' dating back to 1992
A 53-YEAR-old man, who was found guilty of sexual assaulting a six-year-old girl, was yesterday sentenced in the Barkly West Magistrate’s Court to four years imprisonment.
Harry Brais was previously found guilty of sexual assault, after “touching and grabbing” the girl’s private parts while she was sitting on his lap as they travelled in a taxi from Kimberley to Barkly West.
Brais has been in custody since the incident, which occurred in March last year.
While handing down sentence yesterday, Magistrate Veliswa Sityata said that Brais had been “put in a position of trust” on the day of the incident, after the taxi driver and the girl’s mother had asked him to put the child on his lap due to a shortage of seats in the taxi.
“When the mother got off the taxi, she saw something was wrong with the child. On enquiry, she discovered that her daughter was sexually assaulted by Brais while she was sitting on his lap – when he touched and grabbed her vagina,” Sityata said.
She added that it was clear from the young victim’s testimony that the incident was still haunting her and the magistrate said that the court had a duty to protect young, vulnerable children, especially girls, who too often became the victims of sexual crimes by older men.
“Sexual molestation of a child is tantamount to violating their innocence and the sentence should give gravity to the offence. A message must be conveyed that crimes of this nature will never be tolerated, as offenders pose a threat to not only vulnerable young girls but society as a whole,” Sityata stated.
She went on to say that she would also take into account the fact that Brais was not a first offender and had a “long history of previous convictions” dating back to 1992.
She placed emphasis on a conviction for sexually violating a person in 2014.
“This clearly indicates that the accused was not deterred by the sentence imposed on him in 2014, as he continued with criminal activity by committing an offence of the same nature.
“In this case, the nature of the offence and the interest of the community far outweighs the personal circumstances of the accused and the only suitable sentence, to deter him from re-offending and protecting vulnerable groups, is that of imprisonment,” Sityata said.
She then proceeded to sentence Brais to four years imprisonment and declared him unfit to possess a firearm.
She further ordered that his name be entered in the National Register for Sex Offenders, making him ineligible to ever work with children.
Brais was represented by Anthony McConnachie from Legal Aid South Africa, while the State was represented by state prosecutor Cornelia Deetlefs.