Nine life terms for rapists

2010-04-20 00:00

TWO adults who gang-raped a woman without condoms and had oral sex with her — Sibusiso Gwala (30) and Siyabonga Sibisi (19) — were sentenced to nine terms of life imprisonment each yesterday.

Their co-accused, Lindokuhle Mlaba, who was 17 years and six months old when he committed the same crimes, was sentenced to 22 years on each of the nine counts (a total of 198 years).

He will serve an effective 22 years’ imprisonment as Judge Leona Theron ordered the sentences on each of the counts to run concurrently.

The 25-year-old victim was repeatedly raped by the three on the night of May 2, last year after she and her boyfriend were accosted in Burger Street by a gang of seven men armed with knives and fled in different directions. Her boyfriend called the police, who later found and rescued her from her attackers.

Judge Theron agreed with state advocate Ian Cooke’s submissions that some of the most heinous and violent offences are committed by youthful offenders like Mlaba. However, the Constitutional Court has ruled that minors are to be treated differently and ought to be afforded some leeway.

She said in the case of Gwala and Sibisi she could find no compelling or substantial circumstances justifying less than the minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment for each count. Each accused was convicted of raping the woman three times — twice in the “conventional” sense and once by way of oral sex.

Each was also convicted of being an accomplice to the actions of his co-perpetrators.

Minimum sentencing legislation provides for a life sentence to be imposed when a victim is raped more than once “by an accused, a co-perpetrator or an accomplice”.

The judge said it was aggravating that a knife was used in the attack, that the complainant was threatened with being shot if she cried out, that the rapists did not use condoms, and the trauma the victim suffered. She has had counselling, but also became physically ill as a result of an infection.

Judge Theron said the three attackers behaved “like savages” fighting to penetrate the woman in order to satisfy their lust and desires.

“There are no words to express the disgust of the court at the actions of the accused,” she said.

She said they showed no remorse and instead chose to portray the victim, who was a decent young woman, as a prostitute in their bid to extricate themselves from the case.



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