The Bityi Regional Court sentenced Mabula Ramatseatsana (44), to life imprisonment after convicting him on a charge of raping a 15-year-old girl. The court further ordered that his name be entered into the National Register for Sex Offenders and declared him unfit to possess a firearm. On 15 November 2021, the victim was walking home from school in Mqhekezweni village near Mthatha when she was approached by Ramatseatsana, a livestock herder, who was unknown to her. He proposed a love relationship to her but she rejected the proposal, stating that she was too young for such a relationship.

Ramatseatsana walked with he towards a local river. On the way, the victim telephonically contacted her male friend and advised him of her location and that she was bothered by the Lesotho man. When they reached the riverbank, Ramatseatsana grabbed and pulled her to a nearby forest where he assaulted her with a stick and forced her to undress herself before raping her. While still in the act, the victim’s male friend, who was searching for her in the forest, arrived.

Ramatseatsana ordered the the victim to hide with him behind the tree, but she came out of hiding, crying, and informed her friend that she had been raped. Ramatseatsana fled the scene but the victim’s friend, who knew him, was able to identify him. A case was opened at Bityi Police Station and the victim was taken to Sinawe Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) for treatment. When the police went to investigate, Ramatseatsana had already packed and left the village, and he evaded arrest until he was caught a week later while in the employ of another farmer in another village.

During the trial, Ramatseatsana pleaded not guilty and his defence was a bare denial. Advocate Luvuyo Komanisi, for the state, led the evidence of the victim and her friend, and submitted forensic evidence as collected at the TCC. Prosecutor Komanisi presented a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) which was compiled by the victim with the assistance of Court Preparation Officer, Nonkululeko Mcimbi. The State argued that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances justifying deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence and the court agreed.

Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Barry Madolo, commended the prosecutor, investigating officer and the TCC staff for the meticulous collection and presentation of evidence.

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