NATIONAL NEWS - A gang of nine men who were last week found guilty of having robbed and raped almost a dozen women in Tshepisong, Kagiso, have been slapped with a collective total of more than 900 years behind bars.
Thomas Tivane, Makamu Mapedje, Alex Mabuya, Boavida Chilengue, Cito Vicente Maguele, Jordan Marcmiano Bila, Antonio Joao Timbe, George Mabunda and Jeremias Alberto Sithole were last Wednesday convicted of an array of violent crimes carried out in the community.
In handing down sentencing yesterday, Acting Judge Daniel Mogotsi said the men had, “in a very cruel manner operated as gang to overwhelm and terrorise members of the community”.
“They brutally assaulted their terrified victims so that in addition to submitting they would not look at them,” he said.
“There was also what one can call ‘corrective rape’. The victims were insulted for being lesbians. The assault meted out to their victims was so brutal that one of the victims passed on”.
Judge Mogotsi also spoke of the harm – both physical and psychological – suffered by the gang’s victims.
“The victims’ loved ones are still suffering the consequences of the accused’s conduct, years after the offences were committed. Counselling does not even address the impact. One witness testified about how his marriage was wrecked by the accused,” he said.
He also said the men had shown no remorse.
Their sentences will run concurrently and so the men will, in effect, each serve a term of life imprisonment.
Sannah Mathapeno Baloyi, a 50-year old domestic worker and mother of two, was one of the gang’s final victims. She was beaten so badly during her assault that she died two months later from her injuries. The men were last week also found guilty of Baloyi’s murder and yesterday, given a life term for it.
Baloyi’s husband, Joseph, said at court that his family had been shattered by the matriarch’s death.
“My oldest daughter, she has been affected terribly … She’s been in and out of hospital. Even now, as we speak, she’s still on medication. She just couldn’t handle it,” he said, “Everyone dies eventually, but not at the hands of criminals like this.”
Joseph said he, himself, had considered suicide in the wake of his wife’s death.
“It’s been a really, really traumatic experience,” he said.
Regardless, Baloyi said that through his faith, he had found forgiveness.
“For me, not forgive them – it won’t bring my wife back. I really forgive them, from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “But they must still face the might of the law. Unfortunately, in South Africa there is no longer the death penalty. To me, they deserve the death penalty.”
Baloyi and his family had been hoping to see the men jailed for life and he was yesterday happy with the court’s ruling.
He only wished his wife was around to celebrate.