Johannesburg - Life imprisonment sentences were handed to two men at the Bloemfontein Sexual Offences Court on Tuesday, for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, in December 2017.
The teenage girl died by suicide while the matter was in court.
Magistrate Jan Greyvensteyn sentenced Lerato Mahumapelo, 25, and Tlogelo Mooki, 23, both from Rocklands, in Bloemfontein, for the incident that took place on December 16, 2017.
The third accused, Gomolemo Kganare, failed to appear in court, and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.
The magistrate also further ordered that the names of the accused be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders.
The 14-year-old girl, who is said to have been alone on the day of the incident, was forcefully taken by the three men, to a house, at around 10pm, when she went out to go close the gate.
The men are said to have taken turns raping her. The three accused were arrested a few days later, but were then later released on bail.
The victim died by suicide a few months after the start of the trial, back in 2020, after she had given her testimony and was also cross-examined by the defence lawyer.
The State prosecutor advocate Ronell Botha proceeded with the case, even after the death of the complainant.
Free State NPA Spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said: “The state closed its case and the defence brought an application for a discharge, in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, but the application was dismissed.”
Advocate Botha requested that the court not deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence because of the seriousness of this offence and, given the rise of rape cases in Bloemfontein, the court should send a message through their sentencing for this offence.
“Rape has become a serious problem in Bloemfontein, as shown by statistics, and imposition of a light sentence will send a wrong message. The complainant stated in the victim impact statement that she was being victimised at school, as it was known that she was raped. This could be the reason why she took her own life. What is sad is that a family has lost a child because she was struggling to accept what happened to her,” said Botha.
“Magistrate Greyvensteyn was not convinced that the accused had advanced any substantial and compelling circumstances for imposition of a lesser sentence, and he subsequently sentenced the accused to life imprisonment each.
“He further ordered that their names be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders,” said Shuping
The Director of Public Prosecutions in the Free State advocate Navilla Somaru has commended the prosecutor in this case, advocate Botha, and the investigating team, for ensuring that the accused are punished for their actions.