A South African man in KwaZulu-Natal has been sentenced to life behind bars for the rape of his niece when she was nine.

Police spokesperson Capt Nqobile Gwala said the 37-year-old man was sentenced in the Inkanyezi Regional Court, in the north of the province, on Tuesday.

“It is alleged [that] on December 17 2018, a nine-year-old girl was bathing at a water tap at Ngudwini with other children when she was called by her uncle, who sent her to the local tuck shop,” said Gwala.

“Before they could reach the shop, the victim was dragged into the nearby bushes, where she was raped.

“A case of rape was opened at Sundumbili Saps. The docket was transferred to the KwaDukuza family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit for further investigation. The accused made several court appearances until his sentence.”

Provincial commissioner Lt-Gen Khombinkosi Jula said the sentence would send a clear message that “we will do everything within our control to remove sexual predators from our communities”.

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