0056 Avalon Cemetery, had to open a new section next to the old cemetery to make space for new graves. Picture: Mujahid Safodien 02 08 2010

Fifty-one. That is the number of charges Jazzman Rikhotso has been found guilty of by Johannesburg High Court Judge Colin Lamont.

Charged with 58 counts, Rikhotso, the man dubbed the “Avalon Cemetery Rapist” was found guilty on Tuesday on:

* 19 counts of rape;

* 11 counts of kidnapping;

* six counts of robbery;

* six counts of assault;

* two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm;

* four counts of sexual violation;

* two counts of the unlawful possession of a firearm; and

* one count of pointing a firearm.

For two years, Rikhotso preyed on helpless women and children either visiting graves of their loved ones or passing through the cemetery.

His youngest victim was 12 years old and the eldest is now aged 69.

All the victims share the same trauma of having been held against their will, throttled, robbed and raped by the man who stood before court and denied he ever knew or committed the crimes against them.

Unfortunately for Rikhotso, eight of his victims had positively identified him during an identity parade and his DNA matched the samples taken from his victims – his number was up.

The final nail on his coffin was when police traced a cellphone stolen from one of the victims to him.

“The accused is an extremely intelligent person. It was apparent to me that he sought to manipulate the evidence against him … He saw an opportunity to raise questions over the blood samples, that it was a different person’s blood, but subsequently, the blood proved to be his,” the judge said. “The State has proved beyond reasonable doubt that samples taken from the complainants matched the samples taken from the accused.

Rikhotso had told the court during his evidence how unhappy he had been about the way the identity parade had been conducted. He claimed the officer in charge of the parade kept leaving the room and insinuated that he could have been telling witnesses where he was positioned in the line-up.

He also claimed that during his arrest on October 7, 2010, the investigating officer in the case had taken copies of his ID, which led him to believe he had shown those pictures to the victims so they could point him out.

“The first difficulty with that is that there is no evidence the witnesses saw the photos, and the fact that there is a blanket denial from each of the witnesses that they saw the photos.

“Also, not all the witnesses pointed him out; if they had all seen the photos, one would expect he would have been pointed out by all the witnesses,” Judge Lamont said.

Rikhotso had said there had been an elaborate plot by the investigating officer to have him convicted of the charges because he wouldn’t pay him a R20 000 bribe. In terms of that complaint, the judge said: “In order to concoct such a plot, the police would have had to involve each complainant and the nurse.

“All evidence is that that (the plot) didn’t happen, and I accept that evidence.

“The complainants appeared to tell the truth in the best way they knew how and were traumatised by the incidents.”

The judge also withdrew his previous order for Rikhotso’s name to not be published saying: “There’s no reason why his name may not be published. It’s in the interest of society that people know the perpetrator of the crimes has been captured by the diligence of police and has now been convicted.”

Rikhotso is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday.

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The Star Africa