The mother of serial rapist Ishmael Simelane has pleaded with the Pretoria High Court not to send her son to jail, as she needs him to take care of her and his two young children.
Simelane, 27, of Hammanskraal, was described as an exceptionally friendly and polite man, before he turned violent and raped or sexually violated his victims.
He was convicted on 25 charges, ranging from rape and sexual assault to abduction and extortion. He also robbed his victims.
Simelane, who had fired his second lawyer and now represents himself, was to be sentenced on Thursday, but he called for a pre-sentencing report “as they (social workers) could give him counselling at the same time”.
He also indicated that he was going to call his mother to the stand, to testify in mitigation of sentence.
His mother, Tryphina Simelane, was at court on Thursday, so Judge Jody Kollapen decided that she had to take the stand immediately.
This caught the small-built Simelane somewhat off-guard, and he said: “Eish, I am not prepared for this.” His mother nevertheless told the judge that she was a sickly woman, who had to take care of Simelane’s children – aged eight and nine – after their mother had abandoned them when they were toddlers.
“He is important at home. I am often in hospital and there is no one else to take care of the children.”
She did receive social grants for both children and an old-age pension, but still struggled financially, she said. Simelane, who did not have a job, sometimes “got hold of some money” which he gave to her.
Seven women fell prey to Simelane during 2010. They all had the same tale to tell – how they fell for his polite offer to “obtain work for them”.
They all believed the well-dressed man, but their lives soon turned into a nightmare.
While some of the women were raped – some twice – others were sexually assaulted. In nearly all the cases their attacker took their cellphones and phoned their family to demand a ransom for their safe return.
One woman testified in tears how Simelane instructed her to “scream when he severed her breasts or else the muti wouldn’t work”.
Simelane realised she was menstruating, so he told her he could “do nothing with her”.
He told her to unbutton her shirt as he wanted to see her breasts. “He said he wanted to see how much they would go for and then told me he was going to cut them off.”
This victim met Simelane earlier that day after she took a taxi to the library in the Pretoria CBD.
She believed him when he said he was going to get her a job and got into another taxi with him.
He took her to the outskirts of town, where he forced her into the bush and threatened to kill and rape her. He then phoned her mother and demanded a R5 000 ransom from her. After making her promise she would pay the money, Simelane gave the victim R30 to catch a taxi back to Pretoria.
Another woman, who also met Simelane near the library, said she believed the “smooth talker” when he offered her a job. They travelled to Mabopane by taxi to “finalise the paperwork for the job”.
She was happy with the prospect of work, so she did not question him when they walked into the bush.
He suddenly turned aggressive and threatened to cut off her body parts unless she gave him money.
She said although he demanded she undress and he got on top of her, he did not rape her. He tied her up and left her there, but she managed to untie herself and escaped.
Another victim was rescued from an abandoned house, where police found her tied up on a bed. This was after her father called the police as Simelane extorted money from him earlier that day.
She too was raped.
She, as well as his other rape victims, identified him during an identification parade.
Simelane denied the rapes and said police “framed” him.
In the case of the woman found tied up in the house, he said they were in cahoots to con her family out of money and had consensual sex. Simelane once again blamed the police, who “must have tied her up before they took pictures”.
The case was postponed to August 3.