Two men, charged with the gang rape and robbery of a young Pietermaritzburg woman in her home as her helpless mother looked on, made their first appearance in the city’s magistrate’s court on Monday.

The two men were remanded in custody until March 8, when they were expected to plead to the charges.

Their alleged accomplice, Khotso Mohlomi, 26, on Friday pleaded guilty to rape and housebreaking with intent to rob, and robbery with aggravating circumstances in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the gang rape, plus 15 years, by Judge Kobus Booyens.

Mohlomi admitted in his plea that he and his two co-perpetrators had ambushed the two women at their Northdale home on February 21.

He said that they had taken turns to rape the younger woman.

Asked why they did so, he replied: “I think we thought that by raping her, that her mother would give us what we wanted.”

He said they had planned only to rob the victims after lying in wait for them to arrive home. Wielding knives and screwdrivers, they robbed the women of jewellery, a DVD player, money, cellphone and a VW Citi Golf.

Mohlomi told the court in a statement that while he was driving the stolen car after the incident, police chased him and he overturned the vehicle.

But he managed to evade the police and went to a friend’s house in Swapo township.

However, after speaking to his friends, he’d handed himself over to the police.

Mohlomi said he was prepared to testify against his accomplices because he knew what they did was wrong.

“We were stupid and reckless,” he said. “I pray that the complainants can forgive me.”

The 26-year-old university graduate told the court she would never be able to get over what she had been through.

“I can still hear my screams and my mother’s. My life has changed. I will never be the joyful, happy person I once was, and I will always be in fear,” said the woman, who is undergoing counselling once a week.

She is also on anti-retroviral treatment and won’t know for weeks if she is HIV positive.

She was hit across her nose with a screwdriver and gang- raped while her hands were tied together with cable ties.

The woman said that it had affected her family and her relationship with her fiancée, and had forced her to relocate to another city.

The rape survivor’s mother said in a victim impact statement she feels guilty she couldn’t help her daughter and save her from being raped.