'Justice must be swift' - Life terms for Uyinene Mrwetyana's killer welcomed

Luyanda Botha will serve life in prison for the rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana. (Bertram Malgas, News24)
Luyanda Botha will serve life in prison for the rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana. (Bertram Malgas, News24)

The three life terms handed to Luyanda Botha after he pleaded guilty to raping and murdering UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana has been welcomed by many in civil society.

Botha, 42, was handed three life terms on Friday in terms of a plea and sentencing agreement and will only qualify for parole after serving 25 years.

"We welcome the swift action by law enforcement agencies and judiciary for the arrest of the perpetrator leading up to his sentencing," said Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams who oversees the South African Post Office (SAPO).

"While the life sentence will not bring Uyinene back, we hope that it will serve as a deterrent to perpetrators of violence against women."

After Mrwetyana's death at the Clareinch post office in Claremont in August, Ndabeni-Abrahams ordered a probe into how he was employed at the SAPO despite having previous criminal convictions.

The probe revealed the State Security Agency had previously flagged 300 SAPO employees of which 174, including Botha, had criminal records.

The post office was expected to brief Ndabeni-Abrahams by the end of the month on the comprehensive findings and recommendations of the internal investigation.

Speaking outside court, prosecutor advocate Rodney de Kock thanked the investigating officer and police officials who diligently searched for Mrwetyana's body.

"Had it not been for that intervention and for the diligent work, this case would not have been solved," De Kock said.

He believed that collecting evidence speedily and working collectively with key departments was the key to getting results like this.

"I am convinced if that is the approach we follow, we will deter criminals from committing crime in our country."

Uyinene Mrwetyana, UCT student

Uyinene Mrwetyana. (Supplied)

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said the speed at which the case was solved should serve as a deterrent.

"For society and the public to have confidence in the criminal justice system, it is imperative that perpetrators of gender-based violence face the full might of the law," he added.

According to the department, in the last two years more than 600 rapists were sentenced to life imprisonment and 1 500 rapists sentenced to a period ranging between 10 and 19 years.

The EFF applauded the justice system for a speedy resolution of the case.

"This must mark the manner in which all cases related to rape, femicide and general abuse of women should be resolved. Justice must be swift, sharp and definitely biting because justice delayed is justice denied," said its national spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

"There are still many Luyanda Botha's out there; continuing to proceed with their lives after causing unspeakable pain to the lives of women and girls. Society must work even harder to rid itself of such horrors."

Ndlozi said the EFF stood in solidarity with the slain 19-year-old's family, friends and loved ones.

"May she finally rest from the horror and pain that visited her when she was among the living."

UDM Youth Vanguard Gauteng secretary Yongama Zigebe welcomed the sentence, calling on the justice and police departments to continue working in unison on these cases.

"The suffering of young people at the hands of their peers, brothers and fathers … is barbaric. There must be consequences. This sentence should be a warning to all perpetrators out there, that the law will find them and they too shall be punished."

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