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Gang rapists receive hefty sentences

The entire shack was turned upside down. The duvets were covered in blood. Several condoms, used and unused, lay scattered. A man was brutally assaulted and had just about regained consciousness after sustaining a head injury, while his traumatised girlfriend appeared to be in a state of paralysis.

These are flashbacks of the horrific scene recalled by one of two Lwandle police detectives, who had been called to the scene of a house robbery in Asanda Village on Sunday 8 April 2016, during which the woman was repeatedly gang-raped and her boyfriend assaulted by a group of teenagers.

The rape occurred between 02:00 and 05:00 after the group, aged 15 to 18, gained access to the informal house in Xaki Street. The then 24-year-old woman and her boyfriend were asleep when two of the youngsters gained entry to the house by removing a window.

The group had planned on robbing the boyfriend of his iPhones when drinking earlier.

One of the burglars opened the door to the one-room house and six more entered. The man, then 28 years old, was hit over the head with an axe and, as a result, lost consciousness and collapsed. Thinking him dead, the boys covered him with a duvet and turned to the woman. They assaulted and took turns raping and sodomising her before fleeing with cash, cellphones and a TV.

The investigating officer, Sergeant Marius Erasmus, described the emotional challenge he and his partner, Constable Alfred Giyama, had to face; the police officers, driven by passion, are not only dedicated to bringing criminals to book, but responding to the cries of the citizens they serve as sensitively as possible.

“We constantly ask ourselves how we would want police to react to incidents if one of our own family members or relatives was involved, and respond accordingly,” explained Erasmus.

Erasmus and Giyama endured interviewing the traumatised victims on the scene, helping the woman to the ambulance while seated in a chair, and tirelessly worked to apprehend the perpetrators.

The tears shed uncontrollably by the victims after hefty sentences were handed down to their attackers were very comforting after the devastating incident and tireless efforts.

The main accused, Mthendele Siyavuza (19), was sentenced in the Somerset West Regional Court on 8 February. He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for house robbery, 20 years for rape, 15 for robbery with aggravated circumstances and eight years for attempted murder.

The other seven suspects were sentenced in the Strand Regional Court on 25 May last year.

Accused two, Mqina Yomelela Yongsz (19) received three years’ imprisonment for housebreaking with the intent of robbery, 15 years for rape and 15 for robbery with aggravated circumstances.

Accused three, Nyoniyandiza Gcobani (20), was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for housebreaking with the intent of robbery, 15 years for rape and 15 for robbery with aggravated circumstances.

Accused four, Azola Sodo (19), received 15 years’ imprisonment for rape and 15 for robbery with aggravated circumstances.

Accused five, Lonwabo Mnyanda (17), was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for rape, while accused seven, Tsuluba Sabatha (18) and accused six, Brandon Linders (17), were handed 10 years’ imprisonment for the same count.

Accused eight, Ngubo Wam (18), was sentenced to five years’ juvenile detention for rape and five years’ detention for robbery with aggravated circumstances.

Erasmus said he and Giyama welcomed the sentences as the fruits reaped by their hard labour. They worked around the clock and roped in informants to apprehend the suspects, including going without days of sleep during the investigation.

Erasmus said the first suspect, Sodo, was arrested at his house within 24 hours after the incident. The stolen TV was also found inside the shack. He led police to the rest of the boys, who were all taken into custody. The suspects were identified by ID parade and six of them were also linked to the incident by DNA. The police officers also managed to successfully oppose all eight suspects’ bail. They remained in custody until their sentencing.

“The sentencing serves as a warning that criminal offences won’t be tolerated and hopefully restores citizens’ faith in the police and legal system,” said Erasmus, who has served the Lwandle police precinct for the past 17 years.

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