The women were not present in the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday when magistrate Karen Moopenaar also made an order for Cele to be entered into the National Register of Sexual Offenders.
Cele was further sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for each of the two counts of kidnapping and two years for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. These sentences are to run concurrently with the life sentence.
Cele was released on parole in September 2013 and on May 29, 2015 accosted a 19-year-old woman who was jogging in the Umbumbulu area. He forced her into church premises where he raped her and assaulted her so badly that her left eye nearly came out of its socket.
The second complainant, who was 23 at the time, testified that she was walking with her friend in October 2015, when Cele threatened to hurt them if they did not do what he told them. While raping the complainant, the friend ran away and returned with her uncle, but Cele had fled.
The third complainant was 14 and walking home in uMlazi when Cele forced her to go with him to his house where he raped her.
According to a victim impact statement, one of the victims said she still suffered from severe headaches.
“My life changed for ever. The day will never be erased from my memory. I share a bed with my aunt as I still have nightmares. Each night I pray for a peaceful sleep,” she said.
Cele’s defence was that the women were his girlfriends and the sex was consensual.
Prosecutor Shayna Naidoo had argued for Cele to be sentenced to life for each of the three women he raped.
Mpumelelo Danisa, Cele’s attorney, had pleaded with the court to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence on the rape charge of the adult woman. He insisted that Cele had shown remorse.
Moopenaar said the court was of the view that the chances of rehabilitation for Cele were slim, considering he was on parole when he committed the crimes. “This shows you’re a violent person with no regard for law. Society needs to be protected from people like you.”