Pretoria - An HIV-positive rapist has been given a lifeline by the Pretoria High Court, which felt the life sentence he received for the crime was too harsh because the rape had no impact on the victim. The sentence was reduced to 12 years.
Thami Mazibuko was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a woman, and an additional six years for attempted murder. This was because he had sex with her without protection even though he was aware that he was HIV positive.
Two Pretoria High Court judges said, while rape was a serious offence, the lower court in Benoni which sentenced Mazibuko overemphasised the fact that he raped the victim while being HIV-infected, while underplaying the mitigating factors.
The court felt that there were mitigating factors, such as that the rape “had no impact on the victim”, although it acknowledged the fact that the victim did not invite or deserve the rape.
The woman, who was still breast-feeding her baby at the time, left the infant with her mother to go out “on a night on the town”. She did not tell her mother she was going out, but simply left the baby with her and slipped out of the house, as she knew her mother would not agree to babysit.
While visiting various bars with her cousin, they met Mazibuko on the night of October 24, 2010. The three of them moved to another bar, as the victim tried to hide from her boyfriend, who insisted that she should go home.
In the early hours of the morning, they walked to Mazibuko’s home to fetch a jersey and the victim was then raped.
Mazibuko admitted he knew he was HIV-positive at the time, but said he was on antiretroviral treatment. He also admitted to having sex with the woman, but claimed it was consensual.
According to him, they agreed that he would pay her R100 for the sex. Mazibuko said they fought after he realised she had stolen his money when he stepped out of the room after the first round of sex. This version was rejected by the magistrate who sentenced him.
Mazibuko turned to the high court to appeal against the sentencing on the rape conviction. The high court judges commented that the attempted murder charge was, in reality, contained in the rape charge, as he knew he was HIV-positive when he raped the victim.
The victim was not infected with the virus; she was tested twice after the rape and the tests showed she was still negative. The victim also initially lied to her family about how she suffered her injuries and why she arrived home without any shoes. She said she was attacked by thugs.
Soon after the attack, the woman visited a doctor to “cleanse her blood as she was breast-feeding”. He advised her to stop drinking.
She reported the matter to the police only when her grandmother threatened to do so herself.