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Rapist sentenced to 50 years behind bars

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A 13-year-old girl returned from visiting her uncle at Ezikhonkwaneni in Empangeni when she bumped into the rape accused, Mphile Bornface Mthethwa (40). He promised to accompany her so she will arrive home safely. While walking her home, the accused turned on the victim, threatened her, and instructed her to follow him into the sugar cane field where he raped her. The victim screamed for help but the field was too secluded for anyone to hear her cries.

The victim ran into her home and informed her worried mother about the traumatic experience. Her mother called the Empangeni police, and police arrested the accused on the same night.

In another incident, the Empangeni Family Violence, Child Protection, and Sexual Offences Unit secured 30 years for two counts of rape and 20 years for two robbery counts. On 26 October 2020, the Empangeni Regional Court sentenced Sthembiso Phumlani Zulu (30) to 30 years imprisonment for two counts of rape and 20 years for two counts of robbery. On 24 February 2018, a 29-year-old woman in Empangeni returned home at about 02:00 in the morning when she spotted Zulu hiding under the tree. The accused followed the victim until he grabbed and threatened to kill her with a sharp object. He raped and robbed her of her cellphone.

The case was reported at the Empangeni police station, and the docket was transferred to the Empangeni Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) for further investigation. After evading arrest for almost two years, Zulu was finally arrested on 13 January 2020 and was linked to another rape case on 13 September 2017. A 28-year-old victim was raped and robbed at knifepoint while returning from work. The accused made several court appearances until his sentencing.

The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula, praised Empangeni Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit for the good convictions. “We are living in tough times, and it is disappointing when people who are trusted to protect women are the same people violating and abusing them. Men of this country can do better, and it’s our responsibility as a society to protect women and children from any form of abuse. The sentence handed to the two accused shows that justice will always prevail,” he said.

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