Four life sentences for strangler

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Pretoria - A man who admitted to strangling three women in a fit of rage received four life sentences in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

John Mabuti Sape, 42, of Mahwelereng, in Limpopo, received life sentences for the rape of Agnes Masemola in 2001 and Rebecca Madiba in 2005, and life sentences for each of their murders.

He received another 15 years for murdering Lindiwe Gloria Masangu in a Pretoria hotel room in 2006, and another four years for stealing two watches.

Judge Selby Baqwa said Sape was clearly a danger to society and there was nothing that could be taken into account in his favour.

He had attacked three defenceless women, who had come to trust him, in a vicious, callous manner.

His deeds had far-reaching consequences, leaving deep and permanent scars as he deprived the women's children of maternal care and financial support.

At a young age, he was sent to a reformatory school for theft, but his criminal record showed he had not learnt from his past experiences.

Rather, Sape had committed progressively more serious crimes, graduating from theft and housebreaking to multiple rapes and murders, Baqwa said.

On Monday, Sape said in a statement he raped Masemola and strangled her with a scarf because he was angry that she had caused a fist-fight between him and her husband.

Her family had offered him accommodation just two weeks before the murder.

Sape said he raped and strangled Madiba, for whom he had ran errands, because she told him she wanted nothing more to do with him after Masemola's death.

He strangled Masangu, a prostitute, with a shoelace when he realised his wallet and cigarettes had been stolen while they were having sex.

Sape was linked to all three incidents through DNA evidence.

Madiba's sister Julia blamed Sape for her family's suffering and believed he had caused the death of other members of her family.

She said she was afraid of Sape, would never forgive him for what he did and hoped he would rot in jail for the rest of his life.

Masemola's elderly mother Debora Gwangwa said she was happy about the sentence and could now forgive Sape because he was going to jail for life.

Her daughter had been the breadwinner in the family and her needless death had caused the whole family to suffer. - Sapa

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