Rapist (19) gets 25-year term

2008-01-23 00:00

A 19-year-old general farm worker, David Phendukani Ngwane of Kranskop, was yesterday sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment after admitting he and a fellow worker broke into the home of a 58-year-old Greytown woman on December 23, "strangled and assaulted" her, threatened her with a knife before both raped her.

The victim, who attended the court hearing, said afterwards that she is satisfied that the sentencing was fair. But one of her supporters added: "We would have preferred the noose".

KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Vuka Tshabalala convicted Ngwane of housebreaking with intent to rob, robbery with aggravating circumstances and rape.

He found that a minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment was applicable in the case on two grounds: that the victim was raped more than once and that the rape involved grievous bodily injuries. However, he found compelling circumstances that allowed the court to impose less.

Tshabalala said the injuries suffered by the victim were "indeed very serious" and described the attack as "very brutal".

He read from a medical report that detailed multiple bruising and swelling, a bite mark to the neck, lacerated and incised wounds on the arms and severe bruising on the inner thighs were found on the victim. The doctor said the injuries were inflicted with a "blunt object".

However, Tshabalala said he is satisfied that because of his youth, Ngwane has prospects of rehabilitation. He cited the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling that, where an accused is young, the possibility of his rehabilitation must play an important role when courts pass sentence.

Tshabalala sentenced Ngwane to 15 years’ imprisonment for housebreaking and robbery and 25 years’ for the rape. He ordered that he must serve 18 years in prison before he may be considered for parole.

In his guilty plea, Ngwane, who worked on a neighbouring farm, said he and a friend, Sbonelo Gcabasha, were paid on the day in question and Gcabasha was unhappy with the amount he got. He came up with a plan to rob the victim, and Ngwane agreed to assist him.

The two men arrived at her home at about 9.30 pm, forced open a window and accosted the victim, who was watching television.

"Gcabasha grabbed the complainant, strangling and assaulting her with his hands. He told me to bring him a knife from the kitchen, which I promptly did. He threatened her with the knife, demanding money from her. She then told us where the money was kept."

Ngwane went to get the money and returned to find Gcabasha raping the woman.

He said he saw she was bleeding, but "once Gcabasha finished I then took [her] to another bedroom where I raped her as well".

Ngwane said Gcabasha later showed him more money that he had found on the premises, and said Gcabasha also robbed the victim of a cellphone and a ring. After the incident, Gcabasha gave him R5 000 and the cellphone.

Ngwane also kept the R1 200 that he had found earlier.

Tshabalala questioned defence lawyer Divesh Mootheram and state advocate Nqobile Maphalala about what happened to a sum of R60 000 that was allegedly stolen from the woman, according to the state’s indictment.

They indicated that there is no evidence linking Ngwane to a larger sum than he admitted to stealing as his co-perpetrator is still at large.

Tshabalala expressed doubts that Ngwane was "telling the whole truth" with regard to the money, but he was convicted based on the version he gave.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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