Serial rapist’s jail term is reduced to 50 years
THE so-called Methuselah sentences once again came under the spotlight in the high court in Pretoria when three judges reduced the 78-year effective sentence of Mamelodi serial rapist Simon Sithole to 50 years.
The judges said while Sithole deserved each sentence he had received on the 45 charges he was convicted on, it was simply not possible for him to serve these terms.
The 26-year-old would have been an old man nearing his 80s before he had any prospects of leaving jail if he was granted parole. In reducing his sentence to 50 years, he could at the earliest be considered for parole after serving 25 years.
He earlier pleaded guilty to terrorising the residents of Mamelodi for five years.
He managed to get away with it for all those years while police searched for him, but a cellphone he stole during one of his last robberies led to his arrest.
Sithole’s victims included an 11-year-old girl, who he raped. The judge who sentenced him elected not to punish him to the mandatory life sentence for this; it would have meant that all the other sentences he received would have run concurrently with the life sentence.
The effect of this was that, in terms of the Correctional Services Act, he could have been considered for parole only after serving 25 years in jail.
The sentencing judge reasoned that sentencing him to a specific term in jail would mean that he would serve longer, as he would have had to serve half of the jail time before he was considered for parole.
Sithole all in all received a total of 569 years’ imprisonment, of which the court said he had to serve 78 years.
On appeal, his advocate told the court this was a shocking sentence as it was impossible to serve the jail term.
The Sithole camp at first asked the full bench of three judges to rather change his sentence on the rape of the child to one of life, as it would mean only 25 years before he could be considered for parole.
But they changed their minds later and told the court they no longer called for a life sentence, as, in terms of the law, only the minister of justice could grant parole in the case of life sentences, and they did not want to take their chances.
Sithole admitted his crimes.