Femicide is big problem in South Africa and having the courts hand down harsh sentences is a step in the right direction, says anti gender-based violence organization People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA).
This after the Mthatha Regional Court sentenced a 30-year-old man to two life terms consecutively for raping his 60-year-old girlfriend.
Eric Manyinkawu was sentenced for raping the elderly woman on two different occasions.
The victim was in an abusive relationship with Eric, and they stayed in the same homestead at Zithathele Area, in the district of Libode. On the night of 28 September 2021, Eric went to the room in which the victim was sleeping, and demanded to have sex with her, but she refused, telling him that she was not feeling well.
An infuriated Eric severely assaulted the victim before raping her. The following day, the victim went to the traditional leader to report the incident. The traditional leader referred her to the police, but she was allegedly turned back, and only given a number to call, should he assault her again.
The abuse was reported by the victim to the traditional leader before the rape.
POWA spokesperson Thandiwe McCloy says such sentences are a great help in fighting against GBV.
“POWA welcomes this sentence. It’s important for perpetrators of gender-based violence to face the full might of the law and receive lengthy sentences for their heinous crimes so that they are punished, so society is protected from them and to send out a strong message to would be perpetrators that they will be punished for their crimes.”
Attorney Zincedile Tiya of ZM Tiya Incorporated says the fact that the sentences are to be served consecutively does not really mean much. Whether the sentences are served concurrently or consecutively it does not change that they will be in custody for 25 years.
"A life sentence in South Africa is 25 years and there is no sentence bigger than 25 years. Even if they say they are sentencing a person to 147 years, it means life, which is 25 years.
"What the court is really doing is sending a message to the parole board not to consider the person for parole. Ordinarily, once a person has served a third of their sentence they can be considered for parole. Here the court does not want to the person to get out anytime soon.
"So in such an instant, the court is saying the person must be in prison for 25 years and nothing less. They are also sending a message to other criminals that once you commit this kind of offense you will die in prison," Zincedile says.
During the trial, he pleaded not guilty, denying ever having sex with the elderly woman. However, that was in contradiction to the warning statement he had given to the police, in which he claimed that the victim was the one who initiated sexual intercourse. Regional prosecutor, Lindile Dwakaza, led the evidence of the police officer, who took the warning statement of the victim, and the traditional leader. Their evidence convinced the court that he was guilty as charged.
The court agreed with the prosecutor’s submission, that Eric deserved the harshest sentence because not only rape is prevalent in the country, but in this case, the rapist was supposed to protect his elderly girlfriend, instead of abusing her in such a gruesome manner.
National Prosecuting Authority Eastern Cape spokesperson Luxolo Tyali says they are happy with the outcome of the case and the sentences running consecutively instead of the usual concurrent.
“He was supposed to protect her, instead he was the one that violated her,” says Luxolo.
“As the NPA, we are pleased with how the case was concluded. Hopefully, this will send a strong message other would be abusers that they will deal with the long arm of the law,” he adds.