Johannesburg - "It is in the best interest of society that the accused be permanently removed from society."
These were the words of Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng as he delivered a whopping three life terms and 240 years to the notorious Soweto criminal Lungisani Mdlolo -- dubbed "One Man" for his solo nefarious deeds on 39 victims -- who went on a six-month reign of terror from between July and December 2012.
Delivering the sentence judgment at the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday on behalf of the late Judge George Maluleke - who was supposed to deliver it in December 2014, but couldn't as Mdlolo escaped -- Judge Mokgoatlheng detailed the horrific effects One Man's heinous crimes had on innocent people, most of whom were minor girls.
In August 2012, Judge Mokgoatlheng said, Mdlolo broke into a home in Klipspruit and raped a then 16-year-old girl and killed her 21-year-old brother -- all of this in frontof their helpless mother.
Later that year, One Man raped a woman on her bed while her then 5-year-old son lay next to her and watched.
"She (victim) has since suffered a stroke and her doctor told her that it was because she did not receive counselling for her rape and (armed) robbery ordeal.
"She is now disabled and has lost her job as a school teacher. She is not certain whether she will be able to recover her her functionality," the judge said, the hurt in his voice tangible.
In total, Mdlolo was convicted of 22 crimes, including one murder, three rapes, 10 housebreaking with the intent to commit armed robbery, five counts of armed robberies and one charge each for the possession of an illegal firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and the unlawful pointing of a firearm. Mdlolo escaped in December 2014 on the day of his original sentencing, where Warrant Officer David Motsi, who was the investigating officer, said police just lost track of him inside the Palmridge Magistrate's Court's basement cells.
Warrant Officer Motsi said Mdlolo was recaptured in November last year by the Hawks as he was suspected to have been part of a cash-in-transit heist gang operating out of Ekurhuleni.
Meanwhile, drama ensued at the beginning of the sentencing on Wednesday when One Man said he wanted the trial to start from scratch as the previous Judge Maluleke, whom he accused of being biased towards him, had since died.
But Judge Mokgoatlheng, who addressed Mdlolo directly in isiZulu, would have none of it.
"The fact that he (Judge Maluleke) is dead does change anything. If a judge dies, that doesn't mean that the case also dies," Judge Mokgoatlheng said, to audible laughs from the public gallery.
Responding to the judge, One Man said he didn't know that another judge could continue with a sentence when a colleague was dead, but understood this now.
"I was not satisfied with my original conviction. But let us continue -- it doesn't matter now because you have already victimised me," One Man asserted, to louder laughs from the public gallery.
The serial criminal indicated at the end of the sentencing that he would be appealing both his conviction and his hefty sentence.