Thato Kutumela, who was found guilty of the murder and rape of his model girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo, during his trial. File picture: Masi Losi

Johannesburg - A 20 year sentence for the 26-year-old man convicted of murdering pregnant teenager Zanele Khumalo could have been harsher, the ANC Women's League said on Saturday.

“While we think that a more harsher sentence could have been handed down, we are however comfortable that the 20 year sentence will send a strong message to other potential abusers out there and serve as a deterrent,” national spokeswoman Edna Molewa said.

She said the sentencing was a victory for justice and an indication that society did not tolerate women abuse.

“It is sad that a young woman... was killed by a person they expected to protect them.”

Molewa said Thato Kutumela's behaviour was disappointing and that he showed no remorse.

“This is an indication that as society and as mothers, we need to ensure that we inculcate at an early age, values in our children that shows respect for life.”

She called on society to assist in eradicating the scourge of women and children abuse.

Kutumela was sentenced by Judge Johan Kruger in the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

“The sentence I impose is the following: on count one, murder, you are sentenced to 20 years imprisonment,” he said.

Dressed in white, Kutumela stood as Kruger told him that he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for rape and six months for theft.

“Sentences imposed regarding count two and three will run concurrently with count one,” he said.

Kutumela was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

As Kruger read the sentence there were people saying “yes” and “amen”.

As Kutumela made his way down to the cells the people in court started clapping hands.

A member of the African National Congress Women's League said a prayer in court afterwards.

Khumalo's family members, including her parents, sat in the front row of the public gallery wearing black T-shirts with her face printed on them.

Kutumela was found guilty in November last year of murdering and raping the mother of his unborn child.

She was found dead at her parents' home in Garsfontein, Pretoria east, in April 2011.

He was also found guilty of stealing the teenager's nightclothes and underwear to hide the fact that he had raped her.

He did not testify, but claimed in his plea explanation they had consensual sex that morning and that she was alive and well when he left.

This was after he initially claimed, at the magistrate's court, that he had been at work all day.

Khumalo's naked body was discovered under a blanket on her bed when her parents arrived home from work.

They rushed her to hospital, but she had by then already been dead for about six hours. - Sapa