Social workers comfort the victims at the South Gauteng High Court Picture / ANA

In The News South Africa

Rhodes Park victim says her life is changed forever

JOHANNESBURG – “My life has never been the same, I’m constantly in hospital and I keep hearing [the] voices of the men who killed my husband senselessly — they ruined my life,” said one of the Rhodes Park victims outside the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.

The woman was speaking after Judge Papi Masopa handed down a guilty verdict to the three men who raped her before robbing and killing her husband by forcing him to undress and to wade in the lake where he drowned and died.

On October 17, 2015, a group of men including Mduduzi Lawrence Mathibela, 33, Edmore Ndlovu, 24, and Thabo Nkala, 26, accosted and robbed two couples while taking a stroll at Rhodes Park in Kensington.

They have been found guilty of robbery, two counts of rape and two counts of murder.

Since the trial resumed, the men have displayed lack of remorse and would get increasingly annoyed every time journalists took photographs of them.

On Monday, Mathibela aggressively left the dock when he was confronted by reporters taking pictures of the trio. He sat down on the stairs leading to the holding cells and said he would only come up when the judge comes in.

According to the charge sheet, the group, armed with a gun and a knife, forced their victims to lie on the ground. They used a knife to cut off the panties of both women and then raped them.

They forced their partners to undress and made them wade into the lake where they drowned. The gang stole their clothes, jewellery, and a cellphone which they later sold for R320.

During arguments in aggravation and mitigation of sentence, Thulasizwe Mpanza for Nkala was clutching at straws when he failed to explain why his client should be given a lighter sentence.

“My Lord it is my submission to this court that accused number 1 (Nkala) is a responsible father and his judgement was clouded when he committed this crime because he was young,” he said.

Masopa did not seem convinced and said to Mpanza: “But he already has a girlfriend and a five-year-old child, does this sound like a young person to you”.

The court also heard that Nkala was not a first time offender and was arrested for contravention of the copy right act. On his second arrest the court had ordered that he should be deported back to Zimbabwe, however it’s unclear if that ever happened.

Robert Xaba standing for Ndlovu said his client should be given a lighter sentence because he has two children to raise and the one year he has spent in jail after his arrest on this matter, is compelling enough for Ndlovu to spend less time in jail.

“A year is enough as compelling circumstances for him to serve more time in jail, is that what you are saying,” Masopa asked Xaba.

“Yes my Lord, that’s what I’m saying.”

Portia Phahlane representing Mathibela argued her client’s upbringing should be reason enough for the court to consider it’s sentence.

“He didn’t have any father figure who could teach him right from wrong,” she said.

Masopa replied: “Phahlane we are talking about a 32-year-old with two kids.”

The State has called two witnesses to testify before they start arguing on aggravating circumstances.

One of the witnesses who is still on the stand, Pfurisa Norah Baloyi a social worker at Ikhayalethemba in Braamfontein is expected to continue with her evidence on and explain her role in assisting the two victims in their journey of recovery.

The matter was adjourned for Wednesday.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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