Cape Town - Another man dubbed the Facebook rapist has been convicted and sentenced after causing several attacks on women he had lured via the social media platform in the promise of employment, just like the infamous Thabo Bester.
Ernest Ben Mdluli, 40, of Acornhoek, was sentenced to life imprisonment and an additional 75 years was added after he was convicted of six counts of rape and two of robbery.
Sentencing proceedings took place at the Graskop High Court on Thursday.
The case bares the same hallmarks of Thabo Bester, the man infamously known as the Facebook rapist who escaped from Mangaung Prison and faked his suicide after a burnt body was found in cell 35 on May 3 2022, and was caught weeks later hiding in Tanzania.
Bester was convicted and sentenced for rape and murder.
He had lured his victims on the pretence of employment opportunities for modelling.
The State proved that Mdluli had committed the incidents which happened between July 2020 and December 2021 in areas surrounding Acornhoek.
The National Prosecuting Authority proved that Mdluli would target his victims on Facebook and send them messages relating to jobs at guest houses and lodges. He would advise them to meet him so he can take them to the place of employment.
Monica Nyuswa of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions said Mdluli would lure his victims by asking them to walk with him into bushy areas and would threaten them with objects before raping them.
“On arrival, he would tell the victims that the work vehicle was busy transporting staff members and they needed to walk, taking a short cut through the bushes,” she explained.
“In the bush, he would threaten them with a knife and rape them.
“He injured one victim on her four fingers by cutting her in the hand with the knife during a struggle for the knife.
“He robbed two of the victims of R200 cash and cellphones.”
Nyuswa said Mdluli was arrested and linked to the offences through DNA and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Advocate Thobeka Phungula led evidence of victims and first reports.
Their evidence was credible and supported by the DNA evidence as well as J88 medical reports.
In aggravation of the sentence, State Advocate Phungula stated to the court that the accused was a danger to society and that the offences were planned.
The State also said that witnesses were exposed to sexually transmitted diseases and that Mdluli took advantage of the vulnerability of unemployment.
Victim Impact Statements compiled by court preparation officer Nomfundo Mokoena detailed how the incidents negatively impacted the victims.
The court further declared Mdluli unfit to possess a firearm as part of the sentence.
The NPA said they welcomed the sentence imposed and warned the public to be cautious when using social media platforms.