The Sasolburg Regional Court has sentenced Thabo Maseko(32), to life imprisonment after he was convicted of rape in terms of section 51(1) of the Minimum Sentences Act. On 16 September 2021, the accused, and his unknown co-perpetrator confronted the victim who was heating herself on the fire on the street at night (as she is homeless). Realising that the victim was defenceless and homeless, they took advantage of her situation and began dragging her. They also started to assault the victim accusing her of being some other woman they know named Sibongile. The victim pleaded for her life and told them that she was not Sibongile as the accused knew that because they knew each other from the location of Zamdela near Sasolburg.

While still pleading with the accused and his unknown conspirator, the unknown assailant started to rape the victim and instead of stopping this crime the accused also proceeded by raping the victim. They then left her at the scene. The victim who was not too far from the police station went and reported the matter to the police. The police were able to track and locate the accused as he was known by the victim, and he was arrested and charged with rape.

During the trial, the defence argued that this was not the worst rape case the court had dealt with and that the court should deviate from the maximum sentence. The Regional Court Prosecutor Ntombi Marase argued that there was no better or worse rape, rape is demeaning and an atrocious act. The accused took advantage of the victim as she was homeless, disregarding her rights. The Court Prep Officer (CPO), Kelly Mbasa assisted the 28-year-old victim with her victim impact statement which detailed how the rape had affected the victim and how the accused had shown no remorse even when she pleaded with him considering that they knew each other. The victim also mentioned that she was stripped of the dignity she had and did not deserve what had happened to her.

In sentencing, the court found that the accused and his unknown assailant planned this horrific crime as they followed the victim from a tavern. The court held that the court should be careful not to accept every flimsy reason for it to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence. There were no substantial and compelling circumstances that warranted the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence and sentenced the accused to life imprisonment. The accused was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

The National Prosecuting Authority reiterates that “All cases of sexual violence encroach on the rights to dignity and privacy of the victims as enshrined in our constitution hence the NPA aggressively prosecutes these cases”.

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