Hefty sentences for SA rapists
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DURBAN - HEAVY sentences for rapists was only a small light at the end of a dark tunnel for rape survivors.
Nompilo Gcwensa, a rape survivor and chairperson of Phephisa Survivors Network in Durban, welcomed the recent sentences handed down by courts across the country this week for separate incidents.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority, Sipho Eric Tsoai, 22, was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Lebowakgomo Regional Court after he was found guilty of raping his 62-year-old aunt.
The court heard that the woman was attacked, beaten and raped in her yard at one of the villages in Limpopo before she ran to a neighbour for help.
The high court in Mbombela, Mpumalanga sentenced Raphael Livanje, 24, from Barberton to 30 years imprisonment for rape after he pleaded guilty to five counts of rape.
Livanje broke into the homes of his victims late at night and threatened them with a firearm before he raped them in incidents from March 2014 to May 2018. One of the victims was a minor. The victims did not know Livanje and he was linked to the attacks via DNA evidence.
Charles Kgabo Mabitsela, 36, from Ngwanalella village, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Matlala Regional Court after he was found guilty of raping a 6-year-old girl.
On Wednesday, Vusumzi Luvatsha, 42, was also sentenced to life imprisonment for raping the young daughter of a friend’s girlfriend in July 2019.
“It is exciting to hear that there are some cases which get through the system and rapists are eventually sentenced. The ratio is usually high against us as survivors, so to hear that at least some rapists have received lengthy sentences shows there is a little light at the end of the tunnel,” said Gcwensa.
She was raped in 2008, while still a student at varsity and her attacker remained free. She told the Daily News that her story of injustice was one of hundreds other rape survivors.
“I reported it and went through the whole difficult process, and even went to court to give my testimony but that was the last I heard of my case against him. A year later I went to court and learnt he had won the case and the evidence was gone and there is nothing more I could do,” she said.
She has since turned her negative experience into a positive one as one of the founders of Phephisa Survivors Network, a support group where rape survivors could comfort, heal and learn to empower each other.
“Hearing that he is living freely is traumatic, and worse is that I sometimes see him in the area or in a taxi. It’s re-traumatising. You wonder ‘what if it happens again?’ I, like so many other survivors live in fear. It is an injustice for rape survivors. Every rapist sentenced is a little more hope for us who did not get justice.”