Rapists’ fam­i­lies be­rate the vic­tims

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

THE VIC­TIMS of two se­rial rapists sen­tenced to six life terms each came face to face with the men’s fam­i­lies in the high court in Pre­to­ria.

Their re­lief that the men would be go­ing to jail for a very long time was shortlived as the fam­i­lies of Sa­muel Ngob­eni, 42, and Jef­frey Tsoku, 40, hurled in­sults at them.

Shortly af­ter Act­ing Judge Sam Makuma had sealed the pair’s fate, their an­gry fam­ily mem­bers started shout­ing at the vic­tims, claim­ing they had “en­ticed” the men into sex, and their ac­tions (in lay­ing charges) had hurt them.

The as­tounded vic­tims re­acted an­grily, a war of words erupted and the two sides could have come to blows had by­standers not in­ter­vened.

“We did noth­ing wrong. How can they now ex­pect us to take the blame,” said one of the vic­tims. Mostly wait­resses and work­ers at late-night food out­lets north of Pre­to­ria, the women were preyed on as they sought lifts home af­ter work.

Ngob­eni and Tsoku ran a reign of ter­ror for three years – between 2013 and 2016 – in the ar­eas around the Kolon­nade and Won­der­park shop­ping cen­tres, and the Brits area.

The two, who were se­cu­rity guards, of­fered women lifts in Ngob­eni’s car, but along the way they would head for a de­serted spot where they would tie up the women and threaten them with a gun, knife or pep­per spray be­fore one of the men or both would rape them, steal from them, and leave them in the bushes to find their own way home.

Nearly all the vic­tims pre­sented the court with pow­er­ful state­ments re­flect­ing their an­guish and the emo­tional pain they con­tinue to suf­fer.

“It’s three years later and my eyes still fill with tears when I think back about how I was raped. No one will un­der­stand what it re­ally feels like to be so hu­mil­i­ated and re­duced to a piece of trash. It does some­thing to you that you can­not de­scribe,” one woman told the court.

An­other said she would have pre­ferred to have been killed, so much that she bat­tled with life af­ter her or­deal.

The pair pleaded guilty and were con­victed on 42 counts of rape and 33 charges of rob­bery between them. They were linked via DNA ev­i­dence to the rapes, and their vic­tims also pos­i­tively iden­ti­fied them.

Both men tes­ti­fied that they were very sorry for what they had done. They claimed they did not know why they did it, with Ngob­eni say­ing “the devil” made him do it. He also said he was re­lieved that he was ar­rested be­fore he killed any­one, as he didn’t want “blood on his hands”.

Pair were linked to their crimes by DNA ev­i­dence

Apart from fac­ing six life terms, Tsoku was sen­tenced to 480 years’ im­pris­on­ment and Ngob­eni to a fur­ther 288 years.

Judge Makuma re­jected the pair’s pleas for for­give­ness from their vic­tims and said they had no real re­morse, as they only felt sorry for them­selves.

“You saw the op­por­tu­nity to hunt for vul­ner­a­ble women late at night and of­fer them a lift… You preyed on these women, who only wanted to get home to their fam­i­lies.”

The judge said it was very sad, in South Africa, that of ev­ery three women, one had been raped in her life.

“There is no sen­tence that will help the vic­tims re­gain what they lost on those ter­ri­ble nights, but the sen­tences im­posed may to some ex­tent bring clo­sure,” the judge said.

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