Picture: luctheo/Pixabay

Johannesburg - A 32-year-old suspect who who raped a woman and her two daughters then killed a man but did not attend his case court after being granted bail has finally been sentenced.

David Phala was on the run for nine years before being re-arrested.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and an additional 85 years by the Themba Magistrate's Court for the crimes committed in 2008.

According to Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, Phala's charges included murder, attempted murder, rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances. 

Hlathi said according to the evidence presented in court, Phala forcefully gained entry into a house at Marapyane, Mmametlhake in the early hours of December 18, 2008, where he found three females, a mother and two daughters. 

He added that it was reported that upon gaining entry, Phala threatened the victims with a firearm, raped and robbed them of their cellphones and undisclosed amount of cash. 

“One of the daughters managed to phone the father who was at work and he in turn called the neighbours for assistance,” Hlathi said. 

“Two men [neighbours] immediately responded and upon arrival, they found Phala allegedly raping the younger daughter and when they attempted to rescue her, a shootout ensued and one of the men, a reservist constable who was a school principal, was shot dead and the accused was injured in the process,” Hlathi added. 

He further added that Phala was arrested the following day at Matimpule Clinic. 

However, Phala was granted bail during his first court appearance but failed to reappear on the agreed date and a warrant of arrest was issued against him. 

Hlathi added that Phahla was rearrested on August 22, 2017 and was in custody until the end of his trial.

“When passing down the judgement, Magistrate Gilbert Sono said the country cannot be free unless women are free. 

"He further said that the community was terrorised and traumatised by the same people who are supposed to protect them (women) and ensure that they put a stop to such acts of violent crimes against women and children.,” Hlathi said. 

Mpumalanga Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma welcomed the sentencing and  commended the collective work done by the investigating team, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the judiciary, witnesses and Forensics. 

Zuma further said criminals committing violent crimes cannot be left roaming the streets freely while innocent women and children live in fear.  

The Star