A serial rapist was found guilty by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday. Judge Anton van Zyl found Khumbelani Rankentsi, 20, guilty of 12 rapes and two counts each of aggravated robbery and assault. Van Zyl said he wanted a probation officer to suggest what sentence to impose and prosecutor Candy Kander asked that a professor of psychology also interview him.
Before the trial started Rankentsi was examined by a psychiatrist who found that he knew right from wrong and was fit to stand trial. The crimes were committed near his home in a Pietermaritzburg informal settlement between February 2011 and July 2013.
Van Zyl acquitted Rankentsi of two assault and two kidnapping charges as they were committed to facilitate the rapes, and to convict him of those charges would cause duplication.
During the trial, profiler and forensic psychologist Captain Elmarie Myburgh testified that Rankentsi's criminal behaviour was unique. Most of the victims were walking on footpaths or roads when they were suddenly attacked blitz-style, grabbed round the neck or by an arm, and forced into bushes. Three victims had a companion, but the presence of the third party did not deter him as he either chased or attacked them.
He controlled his victims by threatening them with a firearm, a bushknife, or an axe. Some of the victims said he had more than one weapon. He threatened to physically attack them if they screamed or did not co-operate. Some reported that he choked them.
Rankentsi spent time with most of the victims after the assault.
Myburgh said this was to extend his control over them.