HIV rape perpetrator convicted

2009-02-11 00:00

A rapist convicted of the 2004 rapes of two teenage girls - one of whom contracted the Aids virus as a result of the encounter - was sentenced to life imprisonment on each of the two counts by high court Judge Leona Theron in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The rapist - Khulekani Ndlovu, who is in his twenties - was found to have raped two friends on November 6, 2004 at Tembalihle informal settlement, after the teens were forced to drink alcohol.

According to evidence at the trial, he was in the company of a co-accused, who was also charged, but acquitted by the regional court of rape.

Theron said the rape of the teens - one was 14 years old and the other 15 when the attacks occurred - was accompanied by violence, and was a traumatic experience for the two survivors who were "of tender age", and who were subjected to a brutal invasion of their privacy and dignity.

Theron said unfortunately rape and crimes against the dignity and freedom of women are all too prevalent in our society, and it has become such a societal problem that the legislature has deemed it fit to intervene. It was in part due to the outcry from society about the increase in these types of offences that minimum sentencing legislation was introduced.

Theron said there were a number of aggravating factors in this particular case, which in her view was precisely the kind of matter the legislature had in mind when prescribing minimum sentences.

While the court recognised that any rape is serious, this case was made worse by the accompanying violence.

There was evidence that the accused bit one of the complainants during the rape, while his companion used nail clippers to torment her, clipping her all over her body.

Medical records showed that the other teen also suffered injuries to her eye and neck.

According to court records, she testified at the trial that he chased after her when she fled from him, caught her, hit her with his open hand and punched her with his fists on her eye before raping her.

Judge Theron said these factors emphasised the brutality of the rapes and the indignity and humiliation to which the victims were subjected.

She said further alcohol had been used as a device to perpetrate the crimes. It was given to the teens in order to either make them more pliable or less capable of resistance.

Another "distressing" factor was that one of the victims contracted HIV as a result of the incident.

The judge said Ndlovu did not give evidence at his trial, nor in the high court and offered no explanation for his behaviour. He showed no remorse, and this was no indication that he has prospects for rehabilitation.

She said the only mitigating factors in favour of Ndlovu were that he is a first offender, came from a disadvantaged background and has been in custody since 2007, but these factors "paled into insignificance" compared to the aggravating features.

She said, against the backdrop of an unprecedented number of rapes in this country, courts have to send a message that they will protect the equality, dignity and freedom of all women.

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