A Lesotho taxi driver who shot dead two men who tried to stop him from raping a woman was yesterday sentenced in the North Gauteng High Court to 140 years’ effective imprisonment.
William Mohlabane, 31, pleaded guilty to seven charges of rape, two of murder and charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, assault and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
He admitted that in February last year he and a friend had followed a woman from a tavern near Benoni, chased off her friend and then dragged her into the bushes, where he raped her twice. His friend put a beer bottle into the woman’s mouth to stop her from screaming for help and Mohlabane bit her in the face because she was resisting. He said they had been drinking and smoking dagga beforehand.
Two months later, Mohlabane and a group of friends had been drinking alcohol and smoking dagga throughout the night when they came across a group of women coming from a tavern. They grabbed one of the women and dragged her into the bushes, where they first robbed her of her two cellphones and then took turns to rape her. Mohlabane raped her for a second time after his three friends.
When Potego Kgatla and Simon Zitha, who had followed them into the bushes, tried to rescue the rape victim, Mohlabane took out his illegal firearm and shot both in the face. Both died at the scene. Mohlabane also fired shots at a third man, Fanyana Thwala, who managed to run away. The victim ran away when her would-be rescuers were killed and managed to hide in the veld until it was safe.
Acting Judge MS Makamu sentenced Mohlabane to a total of 224 years imprisonment of which he must effectively serve 140 years. The judge found in mitigation that Mohlabane was a first offender, had been in prison for more than a year while awaiting trial, and had used alcohol and dagga before both incidents.
The judge said although the murders had not been premeditated, it was clear that Mohlabane had decided to execute the two men so that they would not interrupt him in his mission to rape his victim. The victims did nothing wrong and were trying to stop him committing an offence.