FORMER inflatable powerboat world champion Lionel Ball was sentenced in the Grahamstown High Court yesterday to an effective 15 years’ imprisonment for sexually exploiting and raping an 11-year-old girl.
Judge Judith Roberson sentenced his co-accused, Nokuzola Ntonga, 38, to an effective 10 years in jail for aiding and abetting Ball, sexual exploitation and child trafficking for sexual purposes.
She said a particularly chilling aspect of the crimes was that the pair had treated the child as a "commodity” to be bought and sold.
In October 2009, Ntonga took the little girl to Ball at his request so that he could rape her at his home. He paid Ntonga for her assistance.
"Her humanity was totally disregarded and [their] treatment of her was pitiless,” Roberson said.
"It seems we have learnt nothing from history. The trafficking of people and sexual exploitation of children is almost beyond the comprehension of decent people.”
She said adults were supposed to protect children and care about their welfare.
"The accused did the opposite. They took advantage as adults to gain the trust of the [child] and then betrayed that trust.”
Although Ntonga and Ball had faced the possibility of life imprisonment, Roberson found there were substantial and compelling circumstances which had persuaded her to depart from the prescribed sentences.
Both were first offenders. Information provided about Ball had shown him to be a man who had given generously to others in thought and deed.
He had shown initiative and drive in his work and sport and the development of previously disadvantaged individuals. "He has been an asset to society.”
Ntonga had, over the years, made the best of her "profoundly disadvantaged circumstances” and was a good wife and devoted mother of three young children.
The "trafficking” had been on a relatively small scale and it would be unfair to impose on her the same sentence as would have been imposed on someone who trafficked in large numbers of children as part of an ongoing business.
She said that although aiding and abetting Ball in such a serious offence, her moral blameworthiness was less than his as he had committed the rape.
Ntonga was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for aiding and abetting Ball, seven years for sexual exploitation and 10 years for trafficking.
Ball was sentenced to 15 years for rape and seven years for sexual exploitation.
Roberson ordered that their sentences run concurrently. Ball dropped his head into his hands when the sentence was read out.
Roberson also ordered that their names be entered into the register for sexual offenders.