Rapist: Devil tempted me

2012-04-21 00:00

THE devil tempted him, serial rapist Sithembiso Eric Hlope (31) told the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

He pleaded guilty to raping six women —some more than once — and was given nine life terms plus jail sentences totalling 33 years for multiple rapes and robberies of vulnerable women seeking work by Judge Anton van Zyl yesterday.

Hlope’s attorney, Ishi Khan, told the court Hlope “does not know what came over him” to make him commit the crime spree, but did not claim any form of mental deficiency.

“He says he was tempted by the devil,” added Khan.

Hlope pleaded guilty to nine counts of rape, one of attempted rape and five robberies committed between February 15 and last Friday.

In each case he admitted having lured women — aged from 22 to 43 — to a deserted spot near a railway line in Bisley with a promise of finding them jobs as domestic workers. He then raped and sometimes robbed them of their belongings.

He said he was unable to rape the last victim on April 13 after she started screaming.

He admitted he raped three of his victims twice during their ordeal.

Judge Anton van Zyl said the frequency and escalation in the number of attacks over time was “disturbing” and said Hlope was undoubtedly a danger to society.

None of Hlope’s victims nor any family members were in court yesterday, but two victims contacted by Weekend Witness said they were very happy with the sentences.

One said she has had sleepless nights thinking her rapist would not be arrested and would come after her.

“I feel justice has been served,” she said. Another said she was ecstatic that Hlope had got what he deserves.

“This means he will not have the opportunity to abuse other innocent people. The community is a better place without him.”

State advocate Elsa Smith said all seven women who fell victim to Hlope, who was dubbed the “railway rapist” of Bisley, have been referred for psychological counselling at state expense.

She said the rapes (or attempted rape in case of one woman) had far-reaching consequences for each of their lives and those of their families and friends.

All the victims were adult women with children.

Judge van Zyl said said society needs to be protected against men like Hlope who was a “particular danger to vulnerable women”.

“Judging by the accused’s actions he should be removed from society until he can no longer pose a danger to females in society,” he added.

Hlope’s attorney told the court that until recently Hlope had a “stable relationship” and lived in the Edendale area with his girlfriend and three children.

A month after he embarked on his crime spree Hlope had left home and lived rough on the streets.

Khan said Hlope had a standard four education, but had always supported himself and later his family, mainly by gardening work.

Recently he had started hiring out his services to cut grass using a brush cutter he owned.

Judge van Zyl sentenced Hlope to life imprisonment for each of the nine rapes he committed, to five years imprisonment for each robbery and to eight years imprisonment for attempted rape.

In terms of the law the sentences will run concurrently.

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