Released rapist’s rampage

2008-03-27 00:00

A rapist who, on the day of his release from prison on August 24, 2002, "descended like a predator on the first woman he could find" attempting to rape her and her three-year-old daughter, as well as a third victim a short while later, was described by a high court judge in Pietermaritzburg yesterday as a menace to society.

Judge Chris Nicholson, with Judge Piet Koen, yesterday confirmed three convictions and an effective 21-year sentence imposed on Jabulani Mkhize, now 37, of Mfongosi Reserve in the Kranskop area.

Mkhize has what the judges described as a "catalogue" of previous convictions for offences, including robbery, housebreaking and rape. In January 1997, he was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for rape and it was on the day of his release from prison in that case that these attacks occurred.

His first victim, a 40-year-old mother, testified that she was walking with her three-year-old daughter when Mkhize knocked her down. When he tried to rape her, she put up a violent struggle, and he bit her on her thigh and breast.

The woman said she jumped a fence to escape him and that was when he grabbed her child, pulled down her jeans and attempted to rape the little girl. The mother threw stones at Mkhize.

When she threatened to call for help, he said he would "bash the child’s brains out".

Judge Nicholson said fortunately for the mother and child a person arrived on a tractor and Mkhize fled.

The woman later identified Mkhize at a police identification parade, taking "10 seconds" to point him out.

Medical evidence was consistent with the woman’s version, the judge said. He also said Mkhize admitted, in connection with an incident just 15 minutes later, that he "throttled" the 21-year-old victim.

However, he told the regional court the woman had seen him in prison playing soccer and "fell in love" with him. He claimed she arranged a rendezvous with him the moment he was released. This explanation was justifiably rejected by the court, Judge Nicholson said.

The woman testified that Mkhize knocked her down and tried to rape her. A vigorous fight ensued. When she asked him why he was behaving in such a manner, he said he was "from prison and had not had sex with a woman for a long time".

He also bit the woman on her cheek, breast and arm.

Mkhize was caught by local people shortly afterwards and handed to the police.

Arguing Mkhize’s appeal, his lawyer, Pregasen Marimuthu, argued that Mkhize was entitled to legal representation at his trial, but the efforts of the regional magistrate to explain his rights to him were inadequate.

However, the appeal judges ruled that it was Mkhize’s own recalcitrance and his refusal to co-operate with lawyers appointed by the Legal Aid Board over a period of two years and five months, which resulted in their withdrawing from the case, and him spending three years in custody before the case was finalised.

Judge Nicholson with Judge Koen found in all the circumstances the effective sentence of 21 years imposed on Mkhize was warranted.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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