A Mpumalanga man, who was found guilty of participating in two armed robberies that left a 16-year-old girl and a 31-year-old woman suffering from gang rape trauma, has been sentenced to life imprisonment
Surprise Siwela, 33, from Hazyview, was sentenced when he appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Wednesday afternoon.
He was arrested on September 24 2012, after an unknown number of gang members broke into two homes in Hazyview, where the families were robbed at gunpoint and two women gang raped. The incidents happened on two separate days, the first on August 24, and the second on the 26th.
He had pleaded not guilty to two charges of housebreaking, two counts of aggravating armed robberies and two counts of rape.
When passing sentencing, Magistrate Vanessa Joubert said the accused and his accomplices had planned the robberies carefully.
“In the first incident the mother was on mourning after the death of her husband. They were woken by the sound of people breaking the door open. At gunpoint, you and your accomplices searched the entire house for valuable items to use for self-enrichment,” said Joubert.
The magistrate said after robbing the mother, the gang raped her 16-year-old daughter.
“The woman had to sit under a blanket and listening to her daughter’ screams. There is no worse situation than that,” she said.
Joubert said that, at the second house, the family had testified that they were woken by torches shinning in their faces.
“In the same manner as in the first home, they were threatened with firearms, robbed of valuables and money. Once again, you dragged the 31-year-old woman away from her husband into the toilet where she was repeatedly raped,” she said.
The magistrate said according to the victim impact reports, one of them said she could still smell the accused and “see his burning face in her mind”.
“You treated her with no respect. She went through humiliation of medical examination and the trial. She was affected in the manner that she cannot comprehend her studies because of stigma and being laughed at at school,” she said.
Joubert said the 16-year-old had said she would never trust a man again in her life.
“The second victim experiences sleepless nights. She blames herself like it was her fault. She deals with bad dreams and there is lack of intimacy with her husband. She has closed down her business and is no longer able to support her children,” said Joubert.
She sentenced the accused to 10 years for the two housebreakings (5 years each), 30 years for two armed robberies (15 years each), and two life imprisonment for the two rapes.
All the sentences would run concurrently