The affordable education loan option
Pretoria - Two rapists who thought 20 years was too long for a rape conviction, got more than they bargained for when they appealed against their sentences.
Samuel Lucky Msimanga, 26 and Samkele Welcome Sibeko, 24, who participated in the gang rape of a woman, turned to the Pretoria High Court in the hope of a more lenient sentence. But instead, they have been given life sentences.
When Acting Judge Hiemstra indicated to their counsel that he and Acting Judge T Truter were to take this step, the two criminals gave notice of their intention to withdraw their appeal. But it was too late and the judges refused them permission.
Judge Hiemstra was particularly scathing, remarking in his judgment that theirs was a heinous crime. “The victim is a young woman who has been violated in the most brutal and pitiless manner,” he said.
“It is notorious that crimes against women and children are rampant. Not a day goes by without reports of horrific crimes against them… Judges have exhausted the adjectives to describe the heinousness of rape.”
The woman, aged 24, had been dragged into a dark spot in the middle of the night and raped by four men in turn, while the others held her down. “It is difficult to imagine more devastating trauma than that the victim must have suffered. There was not a single world of remorse spoken by any of the appellants,” he said.
Hiemstra said he got the impression that the magistrate had regarded the case as another run-of-the-mill matter that came before him on an almost a daily basis.
“He showed no outrage at the wickedness of the crime,” the judge said.
Msimanga and Sibeko, together with two friends raped the woman in Kwa-Tema on May 1, 2011. Three of them pleaded guilty and received 20 years, while the fourth accused pleaded not guilty. It is not clear what his sentence was.
The woman was dragged into an alley, stripped and pinned down during the rape.
The rapists had first denied any involvement but later changed their tune when the State produced DNA evidence linking them to the crime. The other two did not appeal.
In the initial sentencing, the magistrate found two factors to constitute mitigating factors which warranted a lesser sentence than the prescribed life sentence.
This was because they pleaded guilty and because they had consumed alcohol, although they were not drunk.
Judge Hiemstra said it seemed that the magistrate regarded the guilty pleas as an indication of remorse.
“I respectfully disagree,” the judge said in pointing out that before the DNA results were known, the men had claimed there was nothing linking them to the offence.
After receiving the DNA results they realised their cases were hopeless.
Regarding the intake of alcohol, he remarked that there was no evidence that their mental faculties had been impaired or that they were drunk.
The judge added that the legislature had recognised that gang rape compounded the horror and therefore prescribed life imprisonment as the sentence that should ordinarily be imposed.
“Only the most extraordinary mitigating circumstances can justify a more lenient sentence than the one prescribed,” he said.