Five life terms for ‘sadistic’ child rapist

2010-07-08 00:00

A 20-YEAR-OLD man found guilty of the triple rape of a 12-year-old girl, the sexual assault of her nine-year-old sister and double rape of their elderly caregiver at Northdale last year was deemed a danger to society and sentenced to five life terms plus a total of 25 years’ imprisonment yesterday.

Judge Anton van Zyl, sitting with assessors, found that Njabulo Mbhele carefully planned his crimes and said a “degree of sadism” accompanied his actions on the night in question. Not only had he raped the 12-year-old virgin at knifepoint three times through the night, her caregiver twice and sexually molested the youngest child, but afterwards he made them plead for their lives before departing with the girls’ brother as a hostage.

He warned that the boy would be killed if the alarm was raised or if the PIN number he was given for a stolen cash card turned out to be incorrect.

The judge said it was “particularly depraved” behaviour by Mbhele to subject the victims to five hours of terror and then ask them if they thought he ought to kill them and “relish” in their pleas for their lives.

When Mbhele first appeared in the high court in connection with the offences, he pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but when asked to confirm that he had appreciated the wrongfulness of what he had done, he refused to do so. The state subsequently expanded the indictment, and when the case returned to court, Mbhele denied all knowledge of the offences.

Even after his conviction and in the face of “overwhelming” DNA evidence linking him to the rapes, he continued to deny his guilt. This demonstrated that any remorse he may have felt soon after his arrest was transient, said the judge.

He said the result was to exacerbate the trauma suffered by the victims, who had to give detailed evidence in court describing the indignities heaped on them by Mbhele.

Judge van Zyl said that given the careful planning and callous nature of his crimes, he believes Mbhele is a danger to society who, if given an opportunity, could repeat the offences.

Evidence was that Mbhele was living in lodgings within walking distance of the crime scene at the time of the incident.

The victims, who are from the Eastern Cape, were living with a caregiver in Northdale as their mother believed they would receive a better education here.

On the night of February 21 last year, Mbhele broke open the door and gained entry to the house knowing that the only adult male occupant of the house was not at home that night. He held the family captive at knifepoint from about 10 pm until 3 am.

The court found that there were no compelling and substantial circumstances to justify less than the minimum prescribed sentences for each of the crimes.

Mbhele was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for housebreaking and robbery; to life imprisonment for each of the five rapes and to 10 years’ imprisonment for sexual assault.

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