National 29.8.2016 06:30 am

Taxi rapist sent for observation

Taxi sign on a car. Photo: iStock.

Taxi sign on a car. Photo: iStock.

Court hears level of violence has increased and accused is out of control.

A 36-year-old Mpumalanga taxi driver who viciously attacked and raped a series of women, killing one of them and leaving three others for dead, has been referred for mental observation.

Acting Judge Louis Vorster referred serial rapist and killer Thulani Happy Dhlakute for mental observation.

This was after the prosecution had asked the court to consider declaring the accused a dangerous criminal and sentencing him to an indefinite period of imprisonment.

He was out on parole after serving four years of a 40-year sentence for raping two women when he attacked his second round of victims in November 2013.

His spree of violence and rape continued until one brave victim pointed him out to police more than a year later.

Vorster, in the North Gauteng High Court, convicted Dhlakute on 28 charges, including murdering Sikulile Sibande near Langlaagte outside Soweto, Johannesburg, in 2014.

Dhlakute had given Sibande a lift to Hillbrow, but then took her to Langlaagte where he tied her hands behind her back, raped and strangled her to death with her own shoelaces before leaving her half-naked in the veld, where
her partly decomposed body was found three days later.

He was also convicted on three counts of attempted murder, 12 of rape, nine of robbery with aggravating circumstances and two of theft. One of his victims was hit over the head with an iron, leaving her so weak that she had to sleep in the veld that night.

Another woman was strangled until her eyes bulged, her tongue was pushed out and she lost consciousness.

A third woman was strangled and then dragged by her neck behind his taxi for 165m until she lost consciousness.

His victims were taken to deserted spots after getting into his taxi. They were tied up, robbed and their faces covered before being raped and often sodomised. He had also cleared out some of the women’s bank accounts.

One of his victims was a young girl aged 11 who knew him. He raped her after entering her aunt’s house and tying a towel around her neck. Two of his victims were so terrified that they jumped from a moving vehicle and were injured as a result.

The prosecution argued Dhlakute’s level of violence had increased and the frequency of the attacks shortened as time went by, showing he was out of control and unpredictable.

The trial was provisionally postponed until next month.

– ilsedl@citizen.co.za

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