Pietermaritzburg - Four men who gang-raped a 40-year-old woman and stole her engagement ring were given long prison sentences by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday.
The woman and a male companion were accosted by the four under a bridge of the N2 highway at Umhlali, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, last month.
She was forced into bushes next to the highway and gang-raped. The man escaped and alerted the police, whose arrival caused the men to flee.
Sifiso Bomboto, 24, Mzuyanda Cawe, 22, and Sivyyile Mohaphetsu, 28, of Umhlali, were each jailed for 20 years for the rape, and a concurrent 15 years for aggravated robbery.
A fourth man, Siubusiso Xulu, 23, received 15 years for robbery and a concurrent 10 years for his lesser role in the rapes.
The first three were each convicted of all three rapes as they were all present during each rape, kept watch while she was being raped and prevented her from escaping.
Judge Isaac Madondo said there were mitigating factors which resulted in the rapists receiving a lesser sentence than life imprisonment.
Although they had knives, they had not used them on the woman, and they had indicated remorse by pleading guilty. They were also first offenders.
The indictment read in part: “Each accused forestalled and prevented any interference... and enabled the rapes to be perpetrated, well-knowing that she was disabled from exercising free choice...”
State counsel Candy Kandar quoted from a South African law report.
“A rapist does not murder a victim - he murders her self-respect... and mental integrity and security. The monstrous deed often haunts her and subjects her to mental torture for the rest of her life...”
The rape survivor had suffered trauma as she had feared HIV infection, her relationship with her fiance had been affected, and she had to frequently travel long distances for treatment.
She had also incurred huge expenses. - Sapa