The South African government says while the three life sentences handed to rapist and murderer Luyanda Botha for the senseless killing of Uyinene Mrwetyana won't bring back the University of Cape Town (UCT) student, they hope it brings solace in that justice has been served.
Botha, 42, was handed three life terms in the Western Cape High Court on Friday in terms of a plea and sentencing agreement and will only qualify for parole after serving 25 years.
"Government thanks the police for the sterling work that went into this case and the swift arrest of Botha which culminated into his sentencing today," said acting director general at Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) Phumla Williams.
The court on Friday heard how Botha calculated his callous act, having first come into contact with Mrwetyana on August 8 – two weeks before he raped and killed her, before dousing her body with petrol and setting it alight.
"The sentences given by the court send a strong message to all those who may be involved in incidents of rape and sexual assault against women that they will not go unpunished.
"Like many other cases of sexual violence and killing of women, the case of Uyinene shook our nation and elevated the fight against gender-based violence.
"While this sentence will not bring Uyinene back, we trust that her family, the UCT student community, and South Africans as a whole, will find solace in the fact that justice has been done for this little girl," said Williams.
Speaking outside court, prosecutor advocate Rodney de Kock thanked the investigating officer and police officials who diligently searched for Mrwetyana's body.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said the speed at which the case was solved should serve as a deterrent.
Williams echoed Lamola's sentiments: "Through imposing harsh sentences and ensuring that perpetrators of rape don't get bail, government is happy that the judiciary is supporting the national effort to end gender-based violence to ensure abusers, rapists and murderers know that they will be caught and punished".
- Compiled by Kamva Somdyala