The Pretoria High Court sitting in Palm Ridge sentenced a pastor of Jehovah Jireh Church, Frank Tshabalala (34), from Fochville to two life terms for 2 counts of rape, 15 years direct imprisonment for statutory rape, 10 years for theft and one-year direct imprisonment for assault. Judge Anna Granova ordered that his name be added to the national register for sexual offenders.

On the evening of 08 June 2018, a 14-year-old minor who is a complainant in the matter, was on her way home in Blybank, Carletonville when he passed a group of three men. After passing, Tshabalala who was amongst the men followed her, grabbed her hand, and took her to a football ground where he assaulted her with an open hand, threatened her with a sharp object and proceeded to rape her several times.
On 22 January 2019, Tshabalala met the second victim, a 26-year-old woman at Carletonville, after he had promised her a job opportunity through Facebook. When the two met, he walked with her and led her to a veld where he raped her and stole her belongings. Thereafter, Tshabalala started using the complainant’s cellphone and contacted her relatives promising them job opportunities. He was then arrested a few days later on 26 January 2019, after a relative of the complainant agreed to meet with him in Carletonville in a police trap.

After appearing in court, he was released on R 5000 bail, while out on bail on 26 January 2020, Tshabalala used the same modus operandi where he promised a 23-year-old woman employment on Facebook and asked to meet with her. When they met at Gateway Mall in Carletonville, they then went to Fochville, when they arrived at Fochville taxi rank, Tshabalala walked with her to a nearby veld where he raped her. Tshabalala’s bail was revoked after he was arrested in June 2020, on a separate case where he was charged with rape and theft, and later sentenced to 15 years of direct imprisonment.

During the trial, he pleaded not guilty to the charges and said he was in a love relationship with all the victims including the 14-year-old girl who was still a virgin at the time of the incident. However, Prosecutor Advocate Michael Shivuri was able to adduce evidence that proved that indeed Tshabalala committed the offences. During the sentencing proceedings, Tshabalala asked the court to deviate from imposing the prescribed minimum sentence and said the victims did not sustain any physical injuries during the offences. However, Shivuri told the court that the victims did not deserve to be treated and violated in the way they were. Moreover, rape is a serious office that is prevalent in the county and rape of women and children can never be justified. Therefore, he asked the court to impose a sentence of life imprisonment.

When handing down the sentence, Judge Granova agreed with the state that Tshabalala showed no remorse for the offences, and he exploited the vulnerability of the women due to their financial circumstances and age. Furthermore, she said having weighed all mitigating and aggravating circumstances, nothing merits the kind of leniency Tshabalala asked for in respect of the rape charges. Therefore, the sentence given was appropriate.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Adv. Sibongile Mzinyathi welcomes the sentence and applauds the work of the investigating officer warrant officer Johannes Papi Magwaza and the prosecutor. He also wants to assure the community that prosecuting crimes committed against women and children is a priority to the NPA.

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