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- S v Van Helsdingen Case No: AR 566/18 dated 17 August 2020 (KZP)

The accused was charged before the regional court, Newcastle in KZN (“the trial court”) with 1225 counts of contravening various provisions of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (hereinafter referred to Act 32 of 2007), and the Films and Publications Act 65 of 1996.

The accused was convicted by the trial court on counts 1, 2, 6, 7, 29, 30 and 31 to 380. He was acquitted by the trial court on the remaining 838 counts. The different sentences imposed were ordered to be served concurrently, resulting in an effective period of incarceration of 15 years.

Not satisfied with this outcome, the accused appealed to the High Court in Pietermaritzburg (“the court of appeal”) against all his convictions and all his sentences.

Of importance to readers of this column, are the convictions by the trial court on counts 1 and 2 of contravening section 15(1) of Act 32 of 2007 - having consensual sexual intercourse with a female (referred to as AW) who was under the age of 16 years but older than 12 years. On these two charges, the accused claimed that he did not know that AW was under the age of 16 years and that he did not ask her how old she was and she had not told him. It was common cause that the two of them had consensual sexual intercourse.

According to the evidence presented before the trial court, AW was born on 26 July 2000 which would mean that she was 14 years and 3 months old at the time the accused had sexual intercourse with her during October 2014.

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[This is an extract of the discussion of this court case that is published in Servamus: November 2020. If you are interested in reading the rest of the discussion, contact Servamus’s offices by sending an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phoning (012) 345 4660. Ed.]

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