Howick Falls rapist to go to jail for a minimum of 22 years

2009-01-28 00:00

A rape survivor who broke down while describing her ordeal at Howick Falls in July 2007 told Judge Leona Theron in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday she has not had counselling because she cannot speak to anybody about what happened to her.

Meanwhile, in a separate court, the man who pleaded guilty to raping her, Siyabonga Dalas Cele, was sentenced yesterday to an effective 35 years in prison on six charges (including rape) by Judge Chris Nicholson.

Cele indicated that he would be willing to give evidence at the trial of his two former co-accused, Thabani Ndlovu (20) and Nkosinathi Mjiyako (23), who have pleaded not guilty to all charges and whose trial was separated from his.

Sentencing Cele yesterday, Judge Nicholson said any contrition he showed by pleading guilty and by his offer to testify against his accomplices was overshadowed by the heinousness of his offences.

He sentenced Cele to 15 years’ imprisonment on each of the three counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, to 10 years’ imprisonment for incitement to rape and indecent assault, and to 20 years’ imprisonment for rape.

He ordered that some of the sentences should run concurrently. He ruled that Cele should not be considered for parole until he has served 22 years in jail.

All the offences were committed during a crime spree carried out between 3.30 pm and 11 pm on July 15, 2007.

In an adjacent courtroom the young rape survivor — who was 18 when it happened — held her head and repeatedly ran her fingers through her hair as she struggled to find the words to tell Judge Theron the details of her ordeal.

Asked how she feels about it today she replied; “I don’t feel I can live anymore.”

The woman said she suffered further physical injuries after the rape when her assailant pushed her down a cliff.

She said he had instructed her and her male companions to “go” and then forced them to descend down a steep “cliff” next to the falls.

“The guys went first. Then he pushed me down and that’s when I smashed my head. I don’t remember anything after that,” she said.

The woman said she had fallen “quite a long way down”, and had smashed her head and broken her shoulder.

She said her arm is still broken.

She has been told she has to undergo an operation and is afraid to do so. She does not have the full use of her arm as a result.

A male friend who was with her at the time of the incident, said one attacker had accosted them and threatened them with what he’d assumed was a gun held in a paper bag. They were robbed of cellphones and money.

He testified that the robber instructed another male to “sleep” with the woman and when he refused the gunman got angry and threatened to shoot him.

Then the robber raped her and forced them to go down the cliff, threatening to shoot them if they did not.

At the end of the woman’s testimony, Judge Theron advised her to seek counselling to deal with her trauma and said she would be given the names of people who could help her.

The case is proceeding.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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