Some comfort from gang-rapist’s 25-year sentence

2013-09-27 00:00

A FRAIL-LOOKING 66-year-old woman expressed satisfaction yesterday at an effective 25-year jail sentence imposed on a young man in her neighbourhood who was part of a gang of three who broke into her house, robbed and gang-raped her in the Camperdown area on December 18, 2010.

“I am happy because what he did to me is very painful. The sentence somehow helps to take away the pain,” she said at the Pietermaritzburg high court after Judge Isaac Madondo (sitting with assessors) sentenced Sipho Mthembu (23) yesterday for the attack.

Madondo found that despite the viciousness and brutality of the gang rape there were compelling and substantial circumstances that warranted the court imposing less than the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment on Mthembu.

As a result of the attack the victim bled profusely, is still is not able to walk comfortably, suffers from incontinence, and lives in constant fear.

The mitigating factors were that Mthembu was relatively young (21) at the time; that he was a first offender, was a good candidate for rehabilitation, had already spent two years in custody awaiting trial, was a breadwinner and was himself allegedly abused previously by a person he thought was related to the victim.

The Judge said the one good thing that Mthembu did was that when his companions suggested that the victim should be killed, he’d spared her life, saying that he knew her husband. This was according to the victim’s testimony. He said this showed that Mthembu was capable of rehabilitation.

Mthembu’s two co-perpetrators are still being sought by the police.

At his trial Mthembu pleaded not guilty to the charges of housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances; and to six counts of rape arising from repeated rapes perpetrated by him and his accomplices over a period of seven hours.

According to the evidence that was accepted by the court however, Mthembu had played a leadership role in the events. He was armed with a hammer and a pair of pliers when the trio forcibly entered the victim’s house, threatened her and demanded money.

They took R30 from her wallet before taking turns to rape her.

Judge Madondo said a message had to be sent to men who rape women — especially children and the elderly — that they will be dealt with severely.

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