Serial rapist blames actions on mom's cancer death

2016-05-20 21:39
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Mbombela - A Mpumalanga man who pleaded guilty to raping five women and two teenagers after threatening them with a knife, blamed his actions on anger following his mother's death from cancer. One of his victims was a pregnant woman.

Mxolisi Gugu Shongwe, 27, from Hlau Hlau Trust near White River, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday after failing to convince the court he was remorseful.

He earlier tried for a more lenient sentence by telling a High Court judge that his actions were a result of losing his mother to cancer at a young age.

Shongwe was arrested in 2014 after he was tracked through a victim's cellphone that he gave to his girlfriend. His victims were aged between 14 and 43 years.

During mitigation before sentencing, the Nelspruit High Court heard that the accused used to stalk the victims in Zwelisha Trust between 2007 and 2014.

The accused, who burst into tears in full view of the court, pleaded with Judge Zeenat Carelse to have mercy on him.

State not convinced

"I apologise to all the victims for what I did to them. I ask for forgiveness from the court and to the community. I plead for forgiveness… I felt anger and went on a raping spree after my mother died of cancer in 2006.

"I was looking up to her for support. I got confused and was not in the right state of mind. I’m no longer thinking straight, even at present, but will try to change," he said.

State prosecutor Advocate John Mayinga said the State was not convinced that his apology was genuine and remorseful.

"Since his arrest in 2014, he did not send one of his family members to convey a message of his apology to the victims. If it was not for the tracking of the cellphone he gave to his girlfriend, he could have continued with the rapes," said Mayinga.

He said the two teens, both under the age of 16, were raped after their mother sent them to a local market to sell some items so they could earn a living.

Victims traumatised

"Another victim was at the bus stop waiting for a bus. After he misled her by telling that the bus had already left he followed her, threatened her with a knife and raped her," said Mayinga.

Mayinga said another victim, who was pregnant, was walking from her parental home to her boyfriend.

"When crossing a bridge, he accosted her and also raped her at gunpoint. Another woman who was also raped at knifepoint was returning from her grandmother’s house," said Mayinga.

He said the victims deserved security and tranquillity in their community, and the accused prevented them from walking freely.

Carelse said the victim's pre-sentencing reports showed that almost all of them still experience trauma when recalling the events.

"One of the teens said her lifestyle has changed. She lives alone and feels isolated. [Another woman], now aged 43, said life is unbearable. She cannot cope and she experiences emotional imbalances. She got divorced after the event, and was forced to quit her job due to victimisation by colleagues," said Carelse.

Community expecting justice

The judge said another victim had to leave her home to find a new place because her family members kept reminding her about the event.

"She used to be reminded by her younger brother, every time they quarrelled. She had to go and live alone somewhere else. The victims also had to suffer further trauma of coming to court to testify," she said.

The judge said the court was not convinced that by crying the accused was genuinely sorrowful and remorseful.

"Since 2007, the victims had to live in fear of their lives as you were only arrested in 2014. That you used a knife during the events makes the offence violent in nature. If you were not arrested, how many other victims could have been raped?"

Carelse said the community expected the court to deliver justice.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  crime

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