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“Let him rot in jail.” This was how relatives of the victims of triple killer and rapist John Mabuti Sape, 41, bid him goodbye on Tuesday. He was sentenced to five life terms and a further 19 years in jail for strangling three women. He had also raped two of them.
This week Sape admitted he raped and murdered his victims, saying he simply got annoyed with them and strangled them until they “no longer moved”.
He stood impassively, with his arms folded, in the dock, listening to his sentence.
As Judge Selby Baqwa handed down each successive life sentence, victims’ relatives in the public gallery laughed more and more loudly.
Asked by the interpreter afterwards if he understood that he had received five life sentences, Sape nodded his head.
Judge Baqwa said Sape was an extremely dangerous man who had to be removed from society for a very long time as he posed a danger to women.
Sape did not say a word during this week’s proceedings.
He pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him, except one where he was accused of raping a woman, said to be a sex worker.
In a written statement, Sape said he had paid the sex worker, Lindiwe Masangu, before they had sex at a city hotel called the Nest Inn.
Sape said he killed Masangu - the last of his victims - as she had left the door unlocked and the lights off so that someone could enter while they were having sex and steal his wallet and other items. He said he had wanted a cigarette after having sex, but realised his cigarettes and other items had been stolen.
“I became angry and lost my temper, I took a shoelace and strangled her. I don’t know for how long, but after a while she was dead.”
His first victim, Agnes Masemola, an Atteridgeville schoolteacher, was strangled with her scarf, which Sape removed from her head after raping her.
He had become annoyed with her after fetching her husband from a shebeen, as she had asked him to. Her husband suspected that they were in a relationship and a fist fight broke out between the two men
The husband left and Sape was left alone with Masemola.
He said he was irritated with her because she had been the cause of the fight. “I grabbed her and forcefully raped her. Because I realised she could tell her husband, I strangled her with her scarf until she no longer breathed.”
He killed his second victim about four years later.
A cellphone charger cord was used to seal Rebecca Madiba’s fate, as she told Sape she did not want anything to do with him.
The two were friends, but she then heard that he had killed a woman and told him she no longer wanted to see him.
His explanation in this case was: “I lost my temper and I forcefully raped her in a state of anger, grabbed her cellphone charger out of an electrical outlet and strangled her. I don’t know how long it took, but I realised after a while she had passed away.”
Sape did not express remorse about any of the killings.
He stared impassively at members of his victims’ families as they testified how traumatised they still were by the death of their loved ones.
Judge Baqwa described the killings as vicious, callous, senseless and cruel. “[Sape] is clearly a danger to society.”
The judge added that Sape preyed on defenceless women who trusted him.
Sape had fallen into a life of crime at an early age and his deeds became more vicious with time, the judge said.
Deborah Gwangwa, the mother of Agnes, exclaimed “Hallelujah” following the sentencing.
“Thank God, I am so happy he is going away for a long time,” she said.
The old woman, who walks with a walking stick, added that she had forgiven Sape for what he did, as he would have to spend the rest of his llife in jail.
Julia Madiba, sister of Rebecca, was not so forgiving.
“How can I forgive such a merciless, cruel and brutal killer? If he comes out of jail he will kill again. Let him rot in jail,” she said. - Pretoria News