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Spiritual leader sentenced for raping his neighbour

Spiritual leader sentenced for raping his neighbour

Cape Town – A 58-year-old spiritual leader from Mossel Bay has been sentenced to 10 direct imprisonment after he raped his neighbour.

Hendrik Hartzenberg was convicted and sentenced in the Mossel Bay Regional Court after evidence before the court proved he took advantage of his intoxicated neighbour and family friend.

State Prosecutor Mervan Saaiman told the court the complainant had socialised with Hartzenberg and his wife at their home in Grootbrak River.

After drinking beers, the 45-year-old victim fell ill and returned to her home.

She did not lock her door after she entered her home and went straight to bed.

The court heard she later woke up with a heavy weight on top of her.

It was at this time she realised Hartzenberg was busy raping her.

The court heard Hartzenberg used his hand to force the victim’s mouth closed, rendering her powerless.

After raping her, he got up and left the room. Upon exiting the room, the victim’s son entered the house and saw Hartzenberg fiddling with his belt and pants zipper.

When the son confronted him, Hartzenberg attempted to bribe him with beer.

The offer was rejected, and the son forced him out of the house.

The victim immediately filed charges, and Hartzenberg was arrested.

Throughout the trial, Hartzenberg maintained his innocence and denied every having sexual intercourse with the victim.

The court accepted the victim’s version and found her testimony corroborated that of her said.

The court further found that Hartzenberg exploited the victim’s state of intoxication.

"We further emphasised the fact that there was a relationship of trust between the parties. They were neighbours, the accused was her spiritual leader, and there is a familial relationship between the accused and the complainant’s son.

“We requested the court to find that there are no substantial and compelling factors to deviate from the prescribed sentence. That the sentence should have a strong deterrent effect,” Saaiman submitted during aggravation of sentence.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in the Western Cape, Advocate Nicolette Bell, welcomed the sentence.

robin.francke@inl.co.za

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