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One of the attackers of a British tourist and her South African friend, who were overpowered at a lookout point at the Long Tom Pass in Mpumalanga more than 11 years ago, received a reprieve from the Pretoria High Court, which reduced his life sentence to 22 years.
Willy Ngwenya had already been serving half of his sentence behind bars. His appeal against his convictions on an array of charges, including murder, and his subsequent sentence, took a long time, as the court which sentenced him and his three co-accused initially refused him leave to appeal.
He turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which granted him leave to appeal. The matter was then referred back to the Pretoria High Court, where three judges had another look at his sentence.
The abduction, robbery and rape of British tourist Julie Stevens and the attack on her friend, Thinus Opperman, made headlines at the time.
Soon after the attack in November 2002, Stevens spoke to the media about their ordeal and agreed to have her name made public, saying at the time that she did not want to become “just another rape statistic.”
The attack send shock waves through South Africa and Britain as the couple were subjected to humiliation during their nightmare ordeal when their attackers drove around with them for 14 hours. A Mozambican citizen, Domingo Chambal, who tried to come to the two’s aid, was shot and killed.
The judges felt his sentence was too harsh, as he was a young man at the time. He was 19 at the time of the crime.