Taxi driver found guilty on 43 counts of rape and kidnapping

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A taxi driver and serial rapist convicted on 43 counts on Monday was given "homework" to think about how he plans to convince the court not to give him a life sentence during his next appearance in the South Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge on Tuesday. 

Lebogang Gift Mokoena, 28, earlier disputed a charge of assault to cause grievous bodily harm. The charge emanates from an incident on April 22, 2017, in Johannesburg, when Mokoena raped a woman inside a white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi while his friend assaulted the woman's mother.

Prosecutor Rolene Bester had asked the court to convict Mokoena on the charge because he acted in common purpose with his friend. 

His lawyer Sabelo Nobangule argued that the charge should not be added since Mokoena's co-accused was not in court. 

After handing down his conviction, Judge Cassim Moosa told Mokoena to thoroughly prepare for his pre-sentence report on Tuesday as he was facing life in jail.

"Take time and actively participate in the pre-sentencing report to convince the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence.

Victims forced to hand over bank cards

"You are facing a life sentence. If there are witnesses to call, [bring them], or provide the court with substantial and compelling circumstances [to deviate from a prescribed minimum sentence]. You have the whole afternoon to think about that," said Moosa.

Mokoena was found guilty of 13 counts of rape, nine of kidnapping, nine of robbery with aggravating circumstances, nine of pointing an object that resembles a firearm, two of aiding and abetting someone to commit an offence and one of sexual assault. 

He raped eight women.

In his plea statement, Mokoena revealed his modus operandi that he used to kidnap, rape and rob female passengers across parts of Gauteng while driving around in a white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi.

Some victims were forced to hand over their bank cards and pin numbers to Mokoena and his friends. All cellphones and other belongings that were taken from the victims were later sold to a Nigerian national.

Six survivors were raped by Mokoena and his co-accused while the taxi was in motion and two others were taken to an open veld and raped. Some victims were later given money by Mokoena to board a taxi home.

'I know they are going through trauma'

Mokoena went on a rampage for 13 months between September 26, 2016, and October 12, 2017, before he was nabbed by the police at a house in Molapo, Soweto, on October 23, 2017.

Some of the survivors pointed him out during an identity parade. He was also linked to the crimes through his DNA.

He said he was pleading guilty voluntarily and that he decided to take the court into his confidence and didn't want to waste the court's time.

"I don't know the state of the victims, and I know that they are going through trauma which they have to live with for years to come," he said.

His co-accused has disputed the charges and is expected to appear in court for a pre-trial conference in Johannesburg on Friday.

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