KwaZulu-Natal - The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed the life sentence imposed on the rapist of an elderly woman in New Hanover on Friday.

“The ANC welcomes today’s sentence as a major breakthrough in the fight against... social ills such as rape and women abuse,” the provincial African National Congress said in a statement.

“We strongly believe that today’s sentence will send a strong message that the Sexual Offences Act is taken seriously by our criminal justice system.”

The Pietermaritzburg High Court sentenced Avelo Tuswa, 25, to life imprisonment on Friday for raping the 82-year-old woman.

Tuswa pleaded guilty to the rape in October.

SABC news reported that the woman collapsed in court on hearing the sentence read out by Judge Igna Stretch. She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

In his testimony, Tuswa said he was under the influence of alcohol when he committed the crime.

He said he was walking past the pensioner's home when he noticed that the door was open. He threatened the pensioner before raping her.

A doctor's report confirmed the pensioner had suffered serious injuries.

The KwaZulu-Natal social development department also welcomed the sentence.

“We welcome the sentence as it sends a clear message to those who take advantage of vulnerable people, especially women, children and people with disabilities, that they will be hunted down and brought to justice,” said MEC Weziwe Thusi.

Tuswa pleaded guilty to the rape in October. - Sapa