Johannesburg - Police in Mpumalanga have welcomed the heavy sentenced imposed by the Pretoria High Court against serial rapist Lehlonolo Sipho Senamala.
The 27-year-old convicted rapist was sentenced to six life sentences in prison and 246 years on Wednesday.
Senamala had raped numerous women at their homes in the evening while they were asleep between 2013 and 2016. He pleaded guilty in court.
He was also convicted on charges of theft and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The crimes took place in the Mpumalanga town of KwaMhlanga and Kwaggafontein.
Police said his modus operandi was to gain entry into the victims homes in the early hours. He would enter through the door or a window and would hide his face while raping victims.
Mpumalanga’s top cop, provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma said the justice cluster and members of the Family Violence, Child Protection Service and sexual offences units had to be applauded for ensuring the serial rapist was brought to book.
“Women and girls today, especially in the area of Kwa-Mhlanga and the surrounding, will sleep peacefully, knowing that Senamela is behind bars for good because of the effort made by members of the police.
“These members worked tirelessly and professionally to get a maximum sentence for Senamela who was so brutal as he preyed on vulnerable women,” said Zuma.
The senior cop had a stern warning for criminals who violated women.
“I would also like to send a warning to the perpetrators of gender-based violence that we will hunt you down till we find you and justice will take its course,” said Zuma.
The police said Senamela would also order children to cover their faces while he raped the victims.
The police said the serial rapists’ victims were between the ages of 12 and 41 at the time of the criminal act
“His reign of terror was brought to an abrupt end by police when they apprehended him after he raped his last victim during 2016 and took a cell phone from his victim.
“Police conducted a thorough investigation and Senamela was identified whereby information on his whereabouts surfaced. Police managed to follow up the information which led to Senamela’s arrest in Gauteng on 10 January 2019,” said provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.
The police charged him on 49 counts, but 25 were withdrawn and the court convicted him on 24 counts of various crimes after he pleaded guilty.
“All the cases were combined and investigated by the FCS and the sexual offences unit. He admitted to the charges levelled against him, including the robbery with aggravating circumstances as he forcefully entered into victims homes and threatened them with a knife,” said Hlathi.
The police said he was not always successful in raping his victims, and when he was not, he would then steal cellphones, handbags and personal belongings from them.
“At times this attacker would rob and steal from his victims even after raping them. Most of the victims/families he targeted were single parent headed families,” said Hlathi.
The court sentenced Senamela as follows:
Six life sentences for the rape of nine women.
Seven 15 year imprisonment sentences for robbery with aggravating circumstances
Two three year sentences for theft.
“When handing down the sentence, Judge Neliswa Mali said that the accused was a coward who was also selfish. She added that he violently attacked and threatened innocent women as well as children,” said the police.Sunday Independent