Court hands life sentence to man who raped former Banyana player and left her for dead

The Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday convicted and sentenced a man to life for raping, stabbing and leaving for dead a lesbian woman who is a former Banyana Banyana player.

The Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday convicted and sentenced a man to life for raping, stabbing and leaving for dead a lesbian woman who is a former Banyana Banyana player.

Published Apr 10, 2024


Durban — On Wednesday the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court handed a life sentence to a 34-year-old man who it convicted of raping, stabbing, and robbing a former Banyana Banyana player.

In November 2020 the lesbian woman was stabbed with a broken glass bottle in her neck and in her left eye and was strangled and raped by Sandile Wiseman Nikwe. She played dead to avoid further assault by the accused.

He took her pants, shoes, watch, underwear as well as her cellphone, leaving her for dead in a ditch by the roadside in KwaMashu in 2020.

She managed to crawl out of the ditch and passers-by stopped and took her to the clinic following the attack by Nikwe, whom she knew.

In finding the accused guilty, Magistrate N Sipunzi found that the version the woman had told the court was corroborated by evidence presented by doctors during the trial about the victim’s injuries and therefore found it to be the truth.

“Although she was emotional giving evidence, she did not contradict herself, no material differences in her evidence,” she said.

Initially when the trial started, Nikwe made formal admissions pleading guilty, explaining that he had acted in self-defence. He said it was the woman who had wanted to stab her, and that they had had consensual sex. He added that he did not stab her in the eye with the bottle, that she had fallen and perhaps that was how she injured her eye.

Then, in an about-turn, after changing lawyers, Nikwe denied making admissions but maintained his not guilty plea.

Sipunzi said from evaluating the evidence it was unlikely that the woman had sustained the injury to her left eye from falling.

“The evidence of the complainant shows no evidence of consent when it comes to the rape … Dr John’s evidence was that he found lacerations in her left eye consistent with the complainant’s evidence that a sharp object was used to injure her. A more plausible version is that of the complainant and is therefore acceptable.”

In aggravation of sentence, State prosecutor Jenisha Sewbaran said the complainant in her testimony in court said that she is a lesbian and the accused testified to knowing this.

“He said he knew her from the soccer field as the complainant played soccer. He knew she was interested in other girls; it’s quite evident he was fully aware of the complainant’s sexual orientation. He not only raped her that night but brutally assaulted her and savagely injured her eye.”

She cited an article from the “African Human Rights Law Journal” on corrective rape, saying that it was concluded in this article that corrective rape should be seen as a hate crime and not just a crime.

Sewbaran also cited other cases where lesbians had been raped and presiding officers who convicted and sentenced the accused highlighted the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQI community.

“The J88 confirms that she sustained multiple penetrating wounds and lacerations. She lay there as if dead and that was the only time the accused stopped the attack and left. The accused’s actions were vicious and barbaric. He acted as a man who wanted to cause her death and if she had not pretended to be dead he would have continued with his vicious act. This one day in her life caused her insurmountable pain, and trauma which will stay with her for a very long time,” said Sewbaran.

She said Nikwe had shown no remorse; in fact he continued to frustrate the court for over a year changing lawyers, and at some point asking for time to get a private lawyer, which never materialised.

“Women have a legitimate claim to walk in peace on the streets, to enjoy their lives with no fear. Courts are under a duty to send a clear message to other like-minded people that it is determined to protect women and their rights. There are no compelling circumstances presented to the court for it to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence of life when it comes to rape. The degree of the seriousness of her injuries far outweighs any mitigation circumstances or factors,” said Sewbaran, who also asked the court to find the accused unfit to possess a firearm.

Nikwe was handed a life sentence for the rape, 10 years for the attempted murder, and another 10 years for the robbery with aggravating circumstances, and the magistrate deemed him unfit to possess a firearm.

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