Johannesburg - Two men slapped with eight life sentences for raping paramedics had their dreams of freedom crushed when a judge dismissed their application for leave to appeal against their conviction and sentence.
Despite protests of innocence and distancing themselves from the crimes, the same judge who convicted and sentenced them in 2012 dismissed their appeal on Friday in the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg.
Judge Sherise Erica Wiener said no other court would come to a different outcome.
However, the pair’s efforts were not all wasted as Judge Wiener granted them leave to appeal against their 15-year sentence for illegal possession of a firearm.
On March 5, 2010, the paramedics were attending to a toddler with burn wounds in Durban Deep, Roodepoort, when Richard Luruli and Michael Khorombi, who were armed, approached them and robbed and raped them.
At the time of the attacks, the mother of the toddler had gone back to her shack to collect clothes for her baby when Luruli and Khorombi dragged the pair out of the ambulance to a field and raped them.
When the pair saw a man walking towards them during the rapes, they beat him up, saying he had disturbed them while working and tried to force him to rape one of the paramedics.
However, the man did not rape the woman. He climbed on top of her and whispered in her ear to pretend that she was being raped.
Luruli and Khorombi were sentenced to eight life sentences each for the rapes, 35 years for compelling another person to commit a sexual act and 15 years for the unlawful possession of a firearm.
The husband of one of the paramedics divorced her after the rape, saying he could not live with the knowledge that his wife had been penetrated by another man.
Through their lawyer, advocate Jessy Penter, the two men still maintained their innocence, saying they had been wrongfully convicted and that another judge would agree with them.
They said they never raped the women and placed the blame squarely on the man they had forced to rape one of the paramedics.
They said the man was one of the rapists they found raping the paramedics and were later forced to rape them too.
Luruli’s DNA was found inside vaginal cavities of both victims as well as on their underwear. There was no DNA evidence linking Khorombi to the rapes as he had used a condom.