Cape Town. 140729. Thabo Mguleni explains how his 23yr old sister, Thembela, lost her eyes to attackers. Reporter Siya. Pic COURTNEY AFRICA

Cape Town - One of the men accused of gouging out the eyes of Thembela Mjuleni and choking her, has a rape conviction from 10 years ago.

Mxolisi Rwanqa, 35, served eight years in prison for the rape, committed in 2004, the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court was told when he and two others appeared before it on Thursday.

His attorney, Carlo Young, said his client did not have any other previous cases or prosecutions pending against him.

Rwanqa, Siyabulela Mrhaqu and Pule Sikhobe are facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated robbery following the attack in Mandela Park in Khayelitsha on Saturday night.

They are alleged to have robbed Mjuleni, 23, of her cellphone and earrings, choked her and left her for dead a few metres from her home.

Prosecutor Ntsikelelo Peter told the court Mjuleni told police her eyes had been “pressed”. “She says she was choked. When she regained consciousness she had no sight… eyes had been cut.”

Questioned by magistrate Gary Harmse, Peter was unable to say whether an object or bare hands had been used to remove Mjuleni’s eyes.

Items stolen from her were found in the possession of Rwanqa, Peter said. Shortly after this, he was assaulted, allegedly by Mjuleni’s brother and his friends.

He was injured and admitted to hospital, where he was arrested.

Rwanqa was in hospital under police guard when Mrhaqu and Sikhobe were arrested on Wednesday.

Injuries to Rwanqa’s head were evident in court. He had several gashes that had been closed with medical staples.

Peter told Harmse that the State would oppose bail for the three men.

“They are known by the complainant and know the witnesses as they live in the same area. They live in the vicinity of the crime scene.”

Public order would be at risk if they were granted bail. Also, their lives could be in danger if they were released, Peter said.

Mjuleni, the mother of an 8-year-old girl, is in hospital. Her condition is stable.

Mandela Park residents packed courtroom one for the trio’s appearance. Some expressed relief when Harmse remanded the three men until their bail application hearing on August 21. They are being held at Pollsmoor Prison.

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Cape Times