Jubilation greets life sentences

2009-03-16 00:00

Jubilation greeted the sentencing yesterday of three men who raped Jessica Foord last year.

The packed gallery in the KZN High Court, Durban, filled with Foord’s friends, family and media cheered when Judge Vivienne Niles-Duner handed down life sentences to Ntuthuko Chili (18), Mbotho Msomi (26) and Lindani Maphumulo (19), who were found guilty on Friday of rape and sexual assault.

The fourth accused, Siyabonga Ntinga (18), who was acquitted of rape, was given 15 years for armed robbery. Ntinga will be eligible for parole only after 10 years in prison.

According to the indictment, Foord and her father were attacked while walking their dogs at the Polo Pony dam in Hillcrest.

They were forced into a ditch His arms and legs were bound with a rope and he was tied to a tree. Four of the men then raped Foord, while the fifth suspect kept watch over her father.

The accused also stole two cellphones, watches, and silver jewellery and fled in the Foords’ Isuzu bakkie.

A fifth accused, a 17-year-old, pleaded guilty to rape charges in 2008. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison, some of which will be spent at a juvenile facility.

The men stood in the dock with their heads bent, while Niles-Duner said their actions were a “sad indicator” of the moral South Africa’s moral decline.

The courtroom erupted when Niles-Duner announced that the men would serve life sentences, because there were no compelling or exceptional circumstances allowing her to hand down more lenient sentences.

“The worst is that when you want something, you just go out and take it. This includes sexual violation,” she said.

Niles-Duner said she could hardly imagine a more ugly, degrading experience for Foord.

“The only thing that’s positive is that she was not badly injured, impregnated or infected with HIV. The offence is the nightmare of every woman and father,” she said.

Niles-Duner said it is an insult to call the accused “animals”. She described the rape and robbery as a “sad state of affairs” when two adults can’t even walk their dogs without being attacked by a “pack of thugs”.

“All men are taught at an early age not to rape women. Your selfish, rude behaviour is inexcusable,” she told the accused.

She said psychologist, who testified during the trial, spoke of the psychological effects on both Foord and her father.

“I accept her opinion that Jessica will suffer from post-traumatic stress and depression, a consequence of this incident,” she said.

Niles-Duner denied Msomi and Maphumulo leave to appeal. She said no court would hand down different sentences.

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