By Nat Molomo
MASERU — The Maseru Magistrate’s Court this week heard shocking details of how a Maseru man sexually abused his teenage stepdaughter for six years while his wife remained silent.
As the damning evidence was being delivered, the stepfather sat cold-faced in the dock. On his side was his sombre looking wife, who is the girl’s mother.
The mother is being charged with failing to report her husband’s alleged crime.
We have withheld the names of the stepfather and mother to protect the victim. As a matter of policy the Lesotho Times does not identify rape victims.
The mother too did not show any emotion as state witness constable Makhetha of Thetsane Police Station narrated how she came to know of the alleged crime.
The prosecution alleges that the mother knew that her husband was sexually abusing her daughter for six years but did not report the matter.
The two, who are represented by lawyer Advocate Khosi Lesuthu, pleaded not guilty before magistrate Molemo Monethi.
Makhetha said the victim reported that her stepfather had instructed her not to have boyfriends “because he wanted her for himself”.
The alleged abuse started when the girl was only nine years old and was discovered by the police when she was 15.
Makhetha told the court that the girl’s “virginity was vitiated by her father”.
She said the alleged crime came to light on June 22, 2010 when the victim was brought to the Thetsane police station by a stranger.
“I met the girl and saw symptoms that the girl was not well-looked after and she might have some infectious diseases. She had blisters and appeared underfed. She was also not clean,” Makhetha said.
Suspecting that the girl had been sexually abused, Makhetha took her to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital for an examination.
The result confirmed that she had been sexually active.
“She told me that her father had been abusing her since 2009.”
Makhetha testified that the girl had told her that when her mother left for Johannesburg her stepfather turned her into a “fulltime wife”.
“The girl told me that even when her mother had returned her stepfather would leave his bed and come down on the floor where she slept. At one time her mother discovered that he had inserted his penis into her private parts.”
During cross examination the defence counsel asked Makhetha if it was not possible that the father could have prohibited his stepdaughter from having boyfriends because he wanted to protect her.
Makhetha however stood her ground and insisted that the only reason the father had prohibited her daughter from having boyfriends was because he wanted to continue abusing her.
The father did not want her to have boyfriends because he was jealous, the police officer said.
When the defence tried to push further Magistrate Monethi intervened and reminded the court that the victim had to be protected.
“The child must be protected, we are not talking about a prostitute or a harlot here let us protect her,” a seemingly displeased Monethi said.
Makhetha admitted that she had actually called the mother as a witness when she took the girl’s statement.
Makhetha said in 2011 she got a report from the Child and Gender Protection Unit that the father had continued to abuse the girl.
She added that when she heard the mother had encouraged her daughter to drop the case she decided to put husband and wife into custody.
The case was postponed to June 27.
Thabang Motsamai is appearing for the crown.