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Judge urges abortion for minor

Nat Molomo


MASERU — A magistrate has recommended that the High Court give an order to allow a 14-year-old schoolgirl to abort a three-month pregnancy conceived after she was repeatedly raped.

Magistrate Tšeliso Bale made the recommendation on February 5 while sentencing Aupa Khetheng, 32, to 15 years in jail for raping the girl on numerous occasions between October and November last year.

Bale recommended that the High Court makes the order to allow the Standard 5 pupil to have the abortion “as a matter of urgency”.

Abortion is illegal in Lesotho but it can be permissible in circumstances where a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother or if the pregnancy is a result of rape.

In such a situation it requires the consent of a doctor, a police officer, the victim and her parents if she is a minor.

The High Court must also give its endorsement before the abortion can be carried out.

“This is an urgent matter where the victim is still between two to three months pregnant. An abortion is possible for the future of both this young girl and unborn baby,” Bale said in a note attached to the record of proceedings.

“The girl’s wish to continue with her education leaves this court with no option but to recommend an order for the termination of the pregnancy.”

The victim stays with her grandmother in Thaba Bosiu’s Ha-Jobo village.

During trial the court heard that in October last year Khetheng waylaid his victim while she was coming from the shops.

Prosecutor Rethabile Khaile told the court that Khetheng “grabbed her by the neck from behind so that she could not scream for help”.

“The accused took the complainant to his home and, upon arrival, threatened her with a knife before raping her,” he said. 

“Afterwards he released the complainant and ordered her not to tell anyone about it.”

Another sexual assault is said to have taken place the following month.

“In November, again on an unknown date, the girl was alone at her home when the accused arrived and enquired about the whereabouts of the adults,” Khaile said.

“When the girl told him she was alone the accused pulled her into a nearby bush and raped her.

“Afterwards he again threatened her not to tell anybody.”

The girl only revealed the rape after being confronted by her grandmother in December, the court heard.

“Her grandmother asked her what was wrong and why she was looking pregnant,” Khaile said.

“It was then that she narrated her ordeal.

“Her granny then immediately reported the case to Mazenod police who promptly arrested the accused.”

In mitigation, the accused said the complainant was his girlfriend and he was planning to marry her. 

“I am a single man and the girl has accepted my proposal to marry her,” Khetheng said.

But the magistrate was not impressed and sent Khetheng to do his time at Maseru Central Prison.

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