Durban — The trial of a man suspected of being a serial rapist and killer began on Tuesday in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court with the testimony of his alleged rape victim heard in-camera.
The State had applied for the witness to testify in-camera because she was still traumatised by what had happened.
Lindokuhle Rowan Mwethu Beni, 45, is charged with housebreaking with the intent to rape, housebreaking with the intent to steal, and robbery as well as rape. He is suspected of being an alleged serial rapist and murderer. The State was, however, only able to pin these charges on him with evidence.
He had previously been charged with two counts of murder and two counts of rape and house robbery. However, the two murder charges were provisionally withdrawn pending further investigations.
Beni had reportedly made it hard for police to identify him in the past, as he cleaned the crime scene and his victims with sanitiser to eliminate DNA.
He had also allegedly gone to great lengths, biting his fingertips in a bid not to leave any evidence and making it impossible for the police to take his fingerprints upon arrest.
The two murder charges that were provisionally withdrawn against him relate to Malvern residents, 40-year-old Evidence Ntombifikile Seager and 72-year-old Savithree Moodley.
In August last year, Seager’s body was found not far from her home.
She had been stabbed 12 times in the chest and had handcuffs around her ankles, she was allegedly raped.
Items that were allegedly stolen from Seager’s home were found on the accused when he was arrested.
Moodley was found murdered in October last year in her home with stab wounds to her chest.
On Tuesday, Beni from Mdansane in East London, pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces.
Ahead of the trial, magistrate Siphiwe Hlophe explained to Beni the minimum sentences he faced should he be found guilty.
In court, it emerged that Beni used a firearm in the housebreaking counts and also threatened his rape victim at gunpoint and that the woman was raped more than once.
“Because a firearm was used that means aggravating circumstances. For such a robbery you face a minimum sentence of 15 years if you are a first offender. If it is the second time you are found guilty of such a crime you face 20 years’ imprisonment. Because the complainant was raped more than once you could face a minimum sentence of life,” he said.
The trial was adjourned to continue on March 5 for further testimony by other State witnesses.
Speaking outside court after her testimony, Beni’s alleged rape victim said that she broke down in court after seeing his face.
“I relived everything again, I was at a point where I did not know whether I wanted to live or die or continue to face this person because he sat there like nothing happened.”
She said the experience of testifying was hard on her as she had no support from anyone.
“I broke because it was hard and I was struggling, I will always struggle with this and I will never recover.”
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