A life gripped by fear

2013-10-08 00:00

MAKE one mistake and you will be killed.

That was what a 17-year-old rapist told a 45-year-old woman while he and his “uncle” repeatedly raped her and laughed as they did so in 2011.

Acting Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Igna Stretch yesterday sentenced the rapist, Mandlakhe Mthobisi Ngubane, now 19 years old, to an effective 22 years in prison.

His accomplice, Zamani Gumede (42), was previously jailed for life plus 20 years by a different judge.

Family members at court yesterday declined to comment.

“I can’t say what I really think, but I think you know,” a male relative of the victim told The Witness.

The woman, who broke down and cried when she testified earlier during the trial, said four of her beloved German Shepherd dogs, which she bred professionally, tried to form a shield around her when the attackers entered her bedroom in the early hours.

The dogs, who were described as “family dogs” and not aggressive, were beaten with sticks with nails in them and her favourite dog died a few days later.

As a result of the attack, the victim says she has lost confidence and no longer smiles the way she used to.

“Living alone is not an option as the fear that grips me is unbearable, especially when it rains,” she said in a victim impact statement that formed part of the evidence.

She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and sustained permanent nerve damage to her arm. As a result, she no longer has the full use of her hand.

She also had to give up her country lifestyle and move into a tiny suburban simplex with her mother. The dogs she loved dearly had to be re-homed.

She lived with the dread of contracting Aids and medical treatment made her ill.

The court heard that soon after the incident, she was retrenched and could not seek professional help to deal with her ordeal because she had no medical aid. She has since received psychological treatment, but still suffers from recurring nightmares.

She told the court that her attackers had tied her hands and feet and took turns to rape her.

Later they wrapped her in a duvet and carried her to the kitchen, but then decided to go back to the bedroom where they both raped her again.

The woman, who worked for a Christian organisation, said she kept telling them: “Jesus loves you. Please don’t do this”.

She described how each laughed while the other raped her. One of them ate biscuits she had kept for her dogs while the other raped her.

After they left she heard them outside “fighting” with her other dogs. She also heard the anti-hijack device go off in her bakkie.

The woman described how she’d tried to untie the rope around her wrist with her teeth.

When she managed to get free she escaped through the French doors and “ran, and ran and ran”.

She had to jump fences and was injured by barbed wire and shocked by an electric fence. At one point she hid behind a wood stack and could hear the assailants moving around near her vehicle.

The victim eventually managed to reach her landlord’s house and get help.

Because Ngubane was a “child” under 18 at the time of the crimes, minimum sentences of life imprisonment for the rapes did not apply.

Acting Judge Stretch also considered the provisions of the Child Justice Act when she passed sentence on Ngubane.

However, she said in her view the only appropriate sentence was one of a long period of imprisonment.

The fact that he had committed another burglary a month earlier showed that he wouldn’t hesitate to enter somebody else’s domain to get what he wanted, Stretch said.

In this case he and Gumede had broken into the victim’s home on January 3, 2011 while she was not home.

They returned again during the night of January 5, 2011 and then robbed and raped her.

They also tried, but failed, to steal her bakkie.

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