GEORGE NEWS & VIDEO - He raped her and he isn't denying it, but he wants to apologise.
Sipho Bambane* (39) from Thembalethu raped a girl from the same area in 2006. In 2012 he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
"I would like to apologise to her. I know saying I'm sorry won't take away the pain that I've caused, but I hope one day she could learn to forgive me."
Now, seven years down the line, the reality of his actions and the impact it had on his family, friends and his victim, is sinking in. George Herald paid him and other sentenced sexual offenders a visit at the George Correctional Services.
This is his story that forms part of a series of interviews George Herald journalist Kristy Kolberg conducted with sexual offenders behind bars. Next week the second interview will be published.
"I don't want to make excuses. Yes, I was drunk, but I don't want to blame alcohol for something I was supposed to stop. Something just came into my head, I don't know what," he said.
In April 2006 Bambane, who was a taxi driver at the time, was supposed to take passengers to Cape Town. According to him he couldn't find his passengers and a neighbour of one of them sent his daughter with Bambane to show him where he could find his passengers.
Then he raped her.
"I just carried on driving with her in my taxi and raped her near the George Airport. Afterwards we got back into the taxi and I left her near the Thembalethu police station. On being asked why he didn't rather have sex with his girlfriend instead of raping another girl, he said he didn't know, but this was the first time he had done something like that.
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Bambane didn't have an easy life growing up. His father was absent and his mother worked in Cape Town. He and his younger brother were constantly juggled between family and friends, and while living with an alcoholic uncle, Bambane started stealing.
"My uncle and aunt would get drunk and we'd have to go to bed hungry. I had to break into houses to get food for us. It was not easy."
In 1996 they left their uncle's house and lived with another family member who, according to him, constantly sexually abused him. "I ended up running away from home and lived on the street before my friend's mother took me in," he said. In 2002 he was unemployed and started drinking. Later he became involved in the taxi industry.
If things were different
When asked whether he thinks his life would've been different if he grew up in a stable environment, Bambane nodded with embarrassment. "It would've been much different."
He has two young sons whom he last saw in December. "I know life is hard for them without me. I don't see them often. Life in here is not easy and sometimes very dangerous, but I've learned to equip myself better for my future while I'm inside. I'm learning new skills. This is my first time in prison and I don't want to come back. I've learned my lesson," he said.
Advice to others
"Crime doesn't pay. You are either going to die, or end up in prison. Stay away from crime even if life is hard. Try to earn money the right way," is his message to young men. Bambane says that parents should listen to their children when they tell them something bad has happened.
"Most parents don't want to hear that their child has been sexually assaulted, especially not by a family member, and when they start to want to understand it's too late and the worst has already happened," he says, speaking from his own experience.
* Sipho Bambane is a pseudonym.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the offender, and do not reflect the views and opinions of the journalist or the George Herald.
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