Durban - Two men, one accused of raping his niece, were sentenced to life imprisonment for raping young girls in KZN.

In the first case, a 44-year-old Melmoth man was sentenced to life for raping his niece in the Eshowe Regional Court on Tuesday.

It emerged during proceedings that, in 2016, the girl was told to deliver supper to her uncle at his rondavel in the Emakhasaneni area outside Melmoth.

“When she entered the rondavel, her uncle took the food, grabbed the victim, pushed her onto his bed and raped her. He then threatened to kill her and her family with a cane knife if she told anyone. Fearing for her life, the young woman kept quiet,” said SAPS spokeswoman Colonel Thembeka Mbhele.

In February 2017, again, he forced her into his rondavel and raped her.

“Tired of being silent and intimidated, the young woman told her sister who reported the matter to Melmoth police. A case of rape was opened and the police proceeded to the accused’s homestead where he was arrested and charged. He made several court appearances until he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment,” said Mbhele.

In the second case, Sifiso Khuzwayo, 46, from Kwanyamazane area, appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court and was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 14-year-old girl in September 2016.

“The victim was visiting her friend when the accused called and sent her to the tuck-shop to buy cigarettes. On her return, the accused locked the door, tied her hands, gagged her mouth and raped her. He threatened to kill her if she reported the matter to anyone, but the victim refused to be silenced and informed the neighbour who informed the victim’s mother. The accused was arrested after the victim identified him. The matter was set for trial where the accused denied allegations, however the investigating officer gathered all evidence which led to the successful prosecution,” said Mbhele.

KZN acting provincial commissioner Major General Bheki Langa welcomed the sentences.

“Rapists belong behind bars and we are very pleased with the punishment handed down. It will send a strong message to aspiring rapists who intend to abuse women and children in the province that our specialised units will make sure that those involved get a hefty sentence,” he said.