Durban - The Eshowe Regional Court sentenced a 44-year-old man to life imprisonment on Tuesday for the rape of his niece.

"In 2016, a 11-year-old girl was at home at Emakhasaneni area outside Melmoth together with family members when she was instructed to deliver supper to her uncle."

"When she entered the rondavel, her uncle took food, grabbed the victim, pushed her onto his bed and raped her," said police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele. 

She said the accused then threatened to kill her and her family with a cane knife if she told anyone.

"Fearing for her life, the young woman kept quiet and continued liked nothing had happened."

"In February 2017, the victim was in the yard when the accused forced her to his rondavel and raped her again."

"Tired of being silent and intimidated, the young woman quickly informed her sister who reported the matter to police."

Mbhele said a case of rape was opened at the Melmoth police station and the police proceeded to the accused’ homestead where he was arrested and charged. 

"The docket was transferred to Eshowe Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit for further investigation." 

"The accused was taken to Eshowe Regional Court where he was denied bail. He made several court appearances until he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment."

Mbhele said in another conviction, a 46-year-old man from Kwanyamazane area appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court and was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 14-year-old girl in September 2016. 

"The victim was visiting her friend when the accused called and sent her to the tuck-shop to buy cigarettes."

"On her return, the accused locked the door, tied her hands, gagged her mouth and raped her. He threatened to kill her if she reported the matter to anyone."

She said the victim refused to be silenced by the perpetrator and informed the neighbour who informed the victim’s mother. 

"A case of rape was opened at Alexandra Road SAPS and Pietermaritzburg Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit took over the investigation."

"The accused was arrested after the victim positively identified him. The matter was set for trial where the accused denied allegations against him, however the investigating officer gathered all evidence which led to the successful sentencing of the accused." 

 The KwaZulu-Natal Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Bheki Langa welcomed the sentences handed down to the accused. 

“Rapists belong behind bars and we are very pleased with the punishment handed down to the accused. It will send a strong message to aspiring rapists who intend to abuse women and children in the province that our specialised units will make sure that those involved get a hefty sentence,” he said.