Nasrec killer gets 17 life terms

Johannesburg - The so-called Nasrec serial killer and rapist Lazarus Mazingane was given 17 life sentences and over 700 years imprisonment by the Johannesburg High Court on Tuesday.

The court was packed to capacity with people who came to hear Mazingane sentenced for his 1993 to 1998 reign of terror.

Judge Joop Labuschagne said Mazingane was a "cruel and inhuman person" who showed no remorse, and should be permanently removed from society to which he was a menace.

The court rejected as "false beyond reasonable doubt" defence claims that Mazingane was in poor health following torture by police.

Labuschagne said: "With inner vice he (Mazingane) stalked defenceless women whom he robbed and raped before he killed them."

Labuschagne said murder, rape and aggravated robbery were prevalent throughout the country.

Mazingane, said the judge, had no respect for the sanctity of life and property, making a living from robbing the people he stalked and attacked to satisfy his greed.

He was working as a taxi driver at the time and many of the victims were attacked along his route or when seeking transport. His first victims were throttled - not fatally - but those killed towards the end were murdered by strangulation.

Recalling evidence by pathologist Dr Patricia Klepp that it could take four minutes for a person to die from strangulation, the judge said such killings were "barbaric".

"All these women were young and in the prime of life. I listened to the evidence of mothers... and loved ones who told me of their tragic losses. Nothing I do or say today can compensate them, but perhaps they can find some compensation in the conviction of the accused and these sentences I am imposing."

Although the majority of the crimes were committed before the Minimum Sentencing Act came into force on May 1, 1998, it would serve as a guideline and the court would also take into account the indignation of South Africans and ensure that Mazingane was permanently removed from society.

"We are determined to protect the dignity, equality and freedom of all women and show no mercy to those who seek to invade their rights."

Some of the victims were men

But the court noted that some of the victims were men such as Gert Aspeling, who in a departure from Mazingane's usual method, was shot dead when he refused to hand over his car keys after stopping to change a wheel. Mazingane then drove off with the dead man's paralysed wife in the car and dumped her in the veld without her wheelchair.

The chances of rehabilitation appeared "very poor if not non-existent". The judge noted that Mazingane had also been convicted of attacking his own wife.

Mazingane was convicted last week on 74 charges, and was sentenced on Tuesday to life imprisonment on each of the 16 murder counts on which he was convicted and life imprisonment for the most recent rape, which fell under the new legislation.

On each of the remaining 21 charges of rape he was sentenced to 18 years. On the 20 counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances he was sentenced to 25 years for the most recent, and 15 years for each of the remaining 19.

Mazingane was sentenced to 10 years on each of five counts of attempted murder. One victim was shot three times but survived.

He received eight years for each of the three charges of kidnapping, plus two years for assault, three years on each of two charges of illegal possession of a firearm, and three years on each of four charges of illegal possession of ammunition.

The judge pointed out to the crowd - which spilled from the public gallery - that under the Correctional Service Act any term of imprisonment was served at the same time as life imprisonment.

Mazingane is currently serving 35 years for a crime committed late in 1998 - the kidnapping, rape and robbery of an attorney's wife and an attack on a motorist who stopped to help. That investigation led an expert on serial killers, Superintendent Piet Byleveld, to investigate all the unsolved Nasrec killings and culminated in the nine-month, high court trial in which 270 witnesses were called.

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