Two life terms plus 40 years in jail for Mpumalanga rapist
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PRETORIA – The High Court in Mpumalanga, sitting in Breyten, has sentenced 23-year-old Prayswoth Lawrence Thomas to two life sentences with an extra 40 years imprisonment after convicting him on five charges including rape, murder and kidnapping which he committed between 2016 and 2018, around Ermelo.
“The court decided to sentence Thomas following the overwhelming evidence that was presented by the state against him. It was heard in court that on 30 January 2016 the accused raped as well as murdered Nontobeko Felicity Sihlali at Ermelo. He killed her using a brick,” said Mpumalanga spokesperson for the South African Police Service Colonel Donald Mdhluli.
Sihlali was 24 years old when she was killed, and the police said at the time of her murder, she did not know her attacker.
After the murder, the SAPS at Ermelo was notified, and a case was opened for the specialised family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit (FCS) in Ermelo.
“The accused (Thomas) also took advantage against a 17-year-old girl who was at a place of entertainment in Ermelo on 11 March 2018 around 1am. It is said that he used a broken bottle in this incident to hold the minor hostage before he forcefully took her to a local cemetery and raped her upon arrival,” Mdhluli said.
“The matter was brought to the attention of the police in Ermelo and the FCS unit took over the investigation, even though initially the suspect was unknown to the victim.”
Thomas continued with his attacks on defenceless women, and on April 29, 2018, he targeted a 27-year-old woman who was walking on the road to Cassim Park near Ermelo.
Armed with a knife, Thomas dragged the woman to the nearest bushes and raped her.
“On the same day, he forcefully dragged her to his residential place where he further raped her. She fortunately managed to capture the culprit’s name after his sister somehow called him by name. This incident too was reported to the police in Ermelo and the case was assigned to the FCS unit as well,” Mdhluli said.
“At least in this case police got a name of their suspect which was a crucial clue that would lead them to their breakthrough in the near future. A manhunt was launched for the suspect in the said cases.”
Mdhluli said the extensive probe by members of the SAPS paid off in the end, when they eventually arrested Thomas on May 2, 2018, and linked him to the three cases.
The State succeeded in opposing bail and Thomas was remanded in custody throughout his trial until he was convicted and sentenced this week.