The Mogwase Regional Court sentenced Thabo William Modibedi (39), to life imprisonment for raping his ex-lover. The court declared him unfit to possess a firearm, unfit to work with children and for his name to be added to the national register of sexual offenders. His conviction emanates from an incident that occurred in the early hours of 21 October 2018, wherein the complainant was approached by the accused at a tavern and asked her to go home with him. She then refused, and the accused got aggressive in front of other patrons and started assaulting her. The complainant tried to escape but he caught up with her and continued to assault her, as he dragged her to his home.

Upon arrival at his home, he couldn’t find the key to enter and he subsequently dragged her to one of the shacks in the yard and repeatedly raped her. She later managed to escape and received assistance from one of the neighbours, who then took her to the police to report the matter. He was arrested on 23 October 2018 and was granted R1000 bail. He pleaded not guilty to the offence. The state was faced with challenges before trial, as one of the witnesses was shot dead, others could not be traced as they had relocated and others stopped attending court and could not be traced.

During the trial, the then state prosecutor, Adv Tebogo Mokoka, led his evidence with the testimony of the medical practitioner who examined the complainant and the testimony of the complainant. On 03 May 2022, the court found the accused guilty and his bail was immediately cancelled. The matter was however delayed by two subsequent applications from the defence, to have the recusal of the presiding officer from the case, which the court dismissed. They subsequently took the judgement of the recusal to the High Court of South Africa; North West Division for review and it was also dismissed.

On 11 October 2023, a new state Adv, Sicelo Moselakgomo addressed the court in aggravation of sentence, and he urged it not to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment, as the offence that was committed is dehumanising and unacceptable. Magistrate Lebogang Raborife agreed with the state and remarked on the traumatic experience of the complainant, which resulted in her relocation, and the humiliation she suffered as she sought for help from neighbours in a naked state.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West, Dr Rachel Makhari, lauded the prosecution team, investigating officer from the SAPS and other role players who ensured that the perpetrator was brought to book. She lauded the courts for the harsh sentences imposed on such offences.

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