2018 femicide cases: The women, the men who murdered them, and where they are now

Karabo Mokoena
Karabo Mokoena

Femicide, or the murder of a woman at the hands of a man, captured national headlines in 2018 with dozens of marches and court cases highlighting the plight of women in the country.

Coinciding with Women's Day, News24 took a look back at some of the cases where justice was achieved over the last 18 months.

Susan Rohde

Susan was murdered by her husband, Jason Rohde at the Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch on July 24, 2016. After killing his wife, Rohde then tried to stage Susan's death, making it look like she had committed suicide.

Susan's murder was borne from the "ill-fated discovery" of her husband's infidelity, followed by months of "harrowing" trauma which eventually led to her death at the hands of her husband, the Western Cape High Court said.

After a lengthy trial, Rohde was found guilty of murder and obstruction of justice in November.

READ: 'Susan suffered in silence' – judge in finding Jason Rohde guilty of wife's murder

In her judgment, Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said that the analysis of evidence given by lay and expert witnesses before painted a vivid picture of how Rohde had murdered Susan and then staged her suicide.

It was Susan's discovery of her husband's infidelity that had been the catalyst for the horrifying events that took place.

"Susan's ill-fated discovery was followed by months of harrowing trauma. The emotional hallmarks of infidelity entwined [themselves] like creeping ivy into the lives of those affected," Salie-Hlophe said.

READ: Judgment reserved in bail application of convicted wife killer Jason Rohde

Rohde is currently in Pollsmoor Prison awaiting the outcome of his bail application, pending his appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Rohde petitioned the SCA directly to appeal his sentence and conviction after the Western Cape high Court denied leave to appeal.

A date has not been set for the hearing yet.

Winnie Rust

Afrikaans author Winnie Rust was brutally murdered by a man who she had known for many years and even took under her wing. She was 77 years old when her life was taken.

Nigel Plaatjies and his uncle Johannes Plaatjies robbed and killed Rust in her home in Uitsig, Wellington, on May 11, 2016.

The author had known Nigel since he was a little boy and had been paying for his sports activities and school fees since he was in Grade 7.

READ: Two found guilty of robbing, killing writer Winnie Rust

He was a regular visitor to Rust's home and she had often helped him with his homework, even paying for a tutor when he was struggling with Maths.

Nigel even described Rust as his "greatest fan".

On the day of her murder, Rust had planned to help Nigel get his driver's licence, but instead, Nigel and his uncle killed her and robbed her of her jewellery and laptop.

READ: Winnie Rust killers sentenced to life for her murder

According to court testimony of Dr Deidre Abrahams, who conducted an autopsy on Rust, there were signs that she had tried to fight off her attackers. Tape was put around her neck and her airways were blocked so that she could not breathe.

Nigel and Johannes were found guilty of murder and robbery in 2017. In 2018, they were both sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Rust and an additional 15 years behind bars for robbery.

Karabo Mokoena

Karabo was only 22 years old when she was murdered by her on-again off-again boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe, who stabbed her and then burnt her body beyond recognition in a veld in Lyndhurst, north-east of Johannesburg. Her body was discovered in April 2017.

Karabo had been in a romantic relationship with Mantsoe since 2016 and had told her family that she was being abused by him.

In his bail application, Mantsoe denied killing Karabo, but said he had disposed of her body after he came home and found that she had committed suicide.

READ: Sandile Mantsoe sentenced to 32 years in prison after murdering Karabo Mokoena

He tried to paint Karabo as a troubled woman who cut herself and assaulted him, but the court did not buy his testimony and found him guilty of murdering Karabo in May this year.

Just days after his conviction, Mantsoe had been sentenced to a cumulative 32 years in prison by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

Acting Judge Peet Johnson described Mantsoe as the devil in disguise.

Mantsoe was sentenced to 30 years for the murder, five years for assault and four years for the attempt to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. The last two charges will run concurrently with the murder sentence.

Hannah Cornelius

Hannah, a 21-year-old student at the University of Stellenbosch, was brutally raped and murdered by four men she did not know. Her body was found on the morning of May 27, 2017 on the side of a road, near a wine farm outside Stellenbosch.

Hannah was last seen alive with her friend Cheslin Marsh when four men forced the two students into her car in Bird Street.

The two students were abducted, and Marsh was stoned and left for dead near Kraaifontein, while Cornelius was raped and later stabbed at Groenhof Farm.

Describing the ordeal that Hannah went through in her last hours, Western Cape High Court Judge Rosheni Allie said that it was appalling that the accused had kept Cornelius with them after dumping Marsh, as it showed they wanted to take full advantage of her.

READ: 'Cruel, vengeful, vicious' - life sentences for Hannah Cornelius' murderers

She added that the manner in which they preyed on Cornelius made it the "crudest and cruelest form of violence".

They put her in the boot after gang raping her, and she must have resisted because she was in pain and anguish. Her rape was intended to bring her to complete subjugation, "violating her privacy, dignity and humanity", Allie said.

She was stabbed at Groenhof Farm and further attacked while she lay with her face on the ground. Throwing a rock on her was "vengeful and vicious, to cause death instantly".

Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk were convicted of ten charges including kidnapping, rape and murder while their co-accused Nashville Julius was found guilty of robbery and kidnapping, as he had fled before his accomplices drove off with the students that night.

In November, Witbooi and Parsons were sentenced to life imprisonment for Cornelius' murder, and life for her rape. They received an additional 25 years each for the attempted murder of Marsh, 15 years for four counts of robbery, and 10 years for the kidnapping of Marsh, Cornelius and Mimi October.

Van Niekerk received life sentences for Cornelius' rape and murder, 20 years for each robbery, 10 years for kidnapping Marsh and Cornelius, eight years for kidnapping October, and 20 years for the attempted murder of Marsh.

Julius was handed 15 years for two counts of robbery and seven years for the students' kidnapping. His sentences will run concurrently.

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