The Mqanduli Regional Court has sentenced taxi driver Ntsindiso Gwentshula (27) to undergo 25 years direct imprisonment for raping a 17-year-old matriculant he had given a lift to.
On the Sunday of November 3, 2019, the victim left her home in Kroza Village to Elliotdale town to prepare for her Grade 12 examinations with her schoolmates. When it was time to go home, there were no taxis going back to her home village.
While still trying to hitchhike, Gwentshula, who was known to the then four-months pregnant victim, gave her a lift and promised to take her to her home.
However, the taxi driver stopped at certain homestead and told her he was taking money to the owner of the taxi, only to re-emerge after 22:00 at night.
Before they could reach the victim’s village, Gwentshula made another stop, demanded that the terrified teenager alight from his taxi, dragged her to another homestead and repeatedly raped her.
On the following morning, Gwentshula
forced the victim to wash her private parts with cold water before releasing
her to go write her Life Science examination, that she just managed to pass.
Before dropping her off, Gwentshula threatened to kill her if she reported the
rape to the police.
After finishing her examinations, the
young woman telephoned her mother, cried and asked that she return from her
place of work. The mother and her daughter agreed that they should only report
the matter after she finished writing examinations, which they did.
When Gwentshula was arrested, taxi
operators from Elliotdale took the mother and daughter to the Mqanduli police
station and instructed them to withdraw the charges.
The Investigating Officer advised them to tell the taxi operators, who had been waiting outside, that the docket was no longer in Mqanduli and had been taken by regional court prosecutor Melikhaya Dyakopu, and there was nothing that could be done once the docket reached him.
One taxi operator understood, as his driver, Sibongile Mbokothwana, was sentenced to life imprisonment for rape after he was prosecuted in 2018.
During trial, Gwentshula pleaded not guilty claiming to have been framed by the mother of the victim because she tried to extort money from him. However, under cross-examination by the prosecutor, he contradicted himself and even contradicted his lawyer and witness.
The Magistrate, Noluvo Mhlana agreed with the prosecutor that Gwentshula deserved a lengthy sentence. He abused the victim not once, because she was dumped by the father of her unborn child after he heard about the rape, threatened by taxi operators, and did not pass her matric well as a result.
The NPA welcomed the sentence.