Student’s rape and killing gets 25 years

2009-08-20 00:00

A 22-YEAR-OLD man who admitted to raping and throttling a final year student to death at Mtunzini on Women’s Day — August 9 — was sentenced to an effective 25 years in jail by Judge Anton van Zyl in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The judge ordered that Sikhumbuzo Ngcamu must serve 16 years before he can qualify for parole.

Ngcamu pleaded guilty to rape and to culpable homicide for “negligently” though not intentionally causing the death of 22-year-old Nonhlanhla Mbonambi, who was studying towards a diploma in Agriculture at Mangosuthu University of Technology.

He said he was returning home from a traditional ceremony at the Mbonambi homestead when he saw Mbonambi walking along the road and “proposed love” to her. She spurned his advances, so he grabbed her from behind, dragged her to some trees and when she started to scream for help, he grabbed her round the neck and squeezed to prevent her crying out.

He then raped her. When he heard people calling her name, he fled, leaving his clothes behind.

The court heard that Ngcamu was “positively identified” by the clothing and was arrested on August 12.

From then on, he co-operated with the police.

Judge van Zyl said rape is always serious. It is an assault on the dignity, personal integrity and wellbeing of women.

He said women in this country should be entitled to freely walk the “roads, streets and footpaths” without being accosted by the likes of Ngcamu.

“Rape is a selfish crime committed for the personal gratification of the perpetrator,” he said.

Van Zyl said when the violence accompanying rape results in the victim’s death, it raises the crime to a higher level of seriousness. In this case a high degree of violence was used. He said considerable force must have been applied.

The judge accepted the mitigating facts presented by Ngcamu’s lawyer, Ishi Khan, as compelling and substantial circumstances that justified less than the prescribed minimum life imprisonment. These were that Ngcamu did not desire his victim’s death, that he showed remorse by pleading guilty, could be reformed, is a first offender and that alcohol played a role by causing Ngcamu to lose his inhibitions.

Van Zyl said notwithstanding this, the victim’s loved ones were entitled to expect the court to impose adequate punishment for Ngcamu’s horrendous deeds. The court also had to send a message to would-be offenders that this type of crime will not be tolerated.

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