The Rhodes Memorial rapists on Monday pleaded guilty to several charges which included rape, kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and robbery with aggravating circumstances and was sentenced to nine life terms by Acting Judge Mushtak Parker, who presided over the case in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. As he handed down sentence, Parker said, “The absolute fear over which potential victims lived with on a day to day basis in Cape Town, is still in our memories.”
It emerged during the trial that the rapist started his raping spree in November of 2015 up to the time that he was arrested in March of 2016. All in all, it was revealed that six women were attacked and out of these, five of them were students at the University of Cape Town. Only one of the women managed to escape without being raped. The Rhodes Memorial Rapist, whose real name is Mthunzi Hlomane, apparently had a preference for women that had braided hair, a feature which he seemed to have adopted from the pornography that he had watched prior to embarking on these escapades.
It emerged during the court trial that when Hlomane, who also used the name Patrick, met his first victim on November 19 in 2015, he slapped her and stole her belongings before raping her once after threatening her with a knife. Less than a month later, he was at it again when he attacked another of his victims on the 10th of December. This victim was not so lucky as she was raped repeatedly and also lost her cellphone and other belongings. There was a repeat of the sustained rapes when he met his fourth victim in the first month of the new year. There were two more attacks in the new year and in all cases, the victims sustained severe injuries that included a dislocated jaw. One of the victims was apparently forced to go and withdraw money from the ATM for the perpetrator.
During the passing of sentence, the court found that the perpetrator had carried out these acts over an extended period, which showed that he had had ample time to reconsider his actions but had not. Further, it found that he had phoned one of the victims, which added to the trauma that he had made them go through during some of the rapes when he tied them up and made them describe their private lives. Further, the court took the view that by pretending to be taking the photographs of the victims which he had threatened to put on social media, he was adding to the trauma and abuse of his victims.
None of the victims were in the court by their own choice as they had indicated that they wanted closure as quickly as possible. For this reason, the Judge had not made them testify even though he had wanted their voices to be heard.
Research shows that rape victims, who often develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, rarely seek help due to shame and fear. As an alternative to conventional face-to-face therapy, victims of rape who may be suffering in silence are advised to consider signing up for online therapy, which has been shown to reduce PTSD and depression.