The High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division, Bhisho, sentenced Zukile Mqamelo (47) to life imprisonment for multiple rapes on diverse occasions that he committed against his then 11-year-old relative over two years. Mqamelo is the cousin of the mother of the victim and between 2020 and 2021 he and the young girl resided in the Ndlovura area in the district of Middledrift. The victim would occasionally be sent by her grandmother, with whom she was residing, to Mqamelo’s house to deliver or fetch household items. In one instance she was sent to fetch a sugar container from the house and when she arrived there, she was threatened by Mqamelo and raped. In another instance, she and her friend were sent to fetch a water container. On their way, the friend entered her home and the victim proceeded alone. On arrival, Mqamelo raped her, and he stopped when he saw her friend approaching. In a further instance, the victim was sent by her mother’s cousin to fetch a cellphone charger from Mqamelo’s house and in some cases, he would find her home together with her siblings and he would send away the siblings. In all the instances he would instruct her not to tell anyone about what he has done to her and threatened to kill her if she tells anyone.

The young girl eventually gained the courage to report the rape to her mother on 11 October 2021, after they had a lesson at school about a child who was raped. He was arrested at his home on 20 October 2021, after he was pointed out by his mother. The girl was taken to Victoria Hospital where she was examined by Dr. Phumlani Nqweniso. During the trial, Mqamelo’s defence was bare denial, after the state had led the evidence of the complainant, her friend who once witnessed the rapes, her mother, as well as Dr Nqweniso. Court preparation officer (CPO) Sandisiwe Moyake prepared the witnesses and compiled the Victim Impact Statements. The court agreed with State Advocate Unathi Mlungu’s submission that there were no compelling circumstances for deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment.

Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Barry Madolo commended the prosecutor, the CPO, and the investigating officer for ensuring that justice is served for the young women who fell prey to someone who was supposed to protect them.

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