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Durban - Once a “happy, carefree young woman” who was upbeat and optimistic, a 24-year-old who was recently gang-raped by three men at her home told the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday she was depressed and had lost hope.
She testified at Judge Kobus Booyens’s request before the sentencing of one of her attackers.
Khotso Mohlomi, 26, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape and 15 years for housebreaking and robbery.
Two other men have been arrested and will make their first court appearance today.
Mohlomi pleaded guilty, describing how on February 21 he and his two accomplices had entered the property in Belfort, Pietermaritzburg, where the woman and her mother lived and waited for them to return.
They got in through an open door and, after the rape, left with a laptop, iPad, cellphones, a VW Golf and other items, all valued at more than R200 000.
Mohlomi said one of his friends suggested they attack the woman as he had previously worked for her mother.
“I am severely traumatised… my future has been hampered,” she said, adding she had abandoned studying towards her honours degree in psychology this year.
The day after the rape, she and her mother moved to Durban where they were staying with friends. They could not bear to live at home any more.
She said she had sleepless nights and felt as though she would never be happy or normal again. She was also on antiretroviral drugs and afraid of being HIV positive.
Her relationship with her fiancé suffered and he had lost his job because of the time he took off work to comfort her.
“For the rest of my life I will have to look over my shoulder,” she said, adding she could not even go to the bathroom without someone waiting outside.
Although her 51-year-old mother did not testify, a victim impact statement on both women was submitted to the court. The mother expressed fear of being alone and felt helpless: “I have flashbacks and hear her screams. I feel guilty that I was unable to help her. It weighs on me heavily…”
Mohlomi testified in mitigation of sentencing that he was sorry for his actions.
“We were very stupid and reckless, and shouldn’t have done what we did,” he said.
He asked his victim for forgiveness and said he wished that God would protect them so that something like this would never happen again.
Judge Booyens said:
“What you did to a large extent was destroy the peace and tranquillity they enjoyed.”