Elias Thabo Silaul, from Shabalala village outside Hazyview, was found guilty of raping and murdering Zinhle Queen Mdluli, 17, at the Alliance Church yard in Shabalala on the night of May 27, 2012.
He pleaded not guilty to the two charges of rape and murder when he appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court, a Sapa correspondent reported.
In his judgement on Friday, Magistrate André Geldenhuys said although there were no witnesses, Silaul placed himself at the crime scene.
“You said you were with the deceased during that night before the murder. You were also linked by DNA samples collected by police from the forensic laboratory at the crime scene.”
Geldenhuys said the semen collected from the scene and from the victim matched Silaul.
“You also made a confession to the police, that during that night, at about 8.50pm, you went to the Alliance Church with the deceased. You asked her to have sex with you but she refused.”
He grabbed and assaulted her and tried taking her trousers and panties off.
“When she tried pushing you away, you assaulted her until she was motionless. You said she did not scream and you did not rape her. When realising she was motionless, you left her with her trouser and panties still down around her knees,” Geldenhuys said.
Silaul claimed he was forced to make a confession.
“You then testified that the deceased was your girlfriend. After you met her that night, three thugs attacked you two and fired a shot into the ground. You said you ran to another direction and she took another. You headed home to sleep until the next morning,” he said.
Geldenhuys said Silaul testified that he did not go to her home to find out what happened after the attack, until police arrested him on June 3, 2012.
“If she was your girlfriend, you should have checked on her to find out what happened after the thugs attacked you. But you stayed at your home for days, like nothing happened.
“After meeting with her that night, you dragged her to the veld next to the church, raped her and strangled her to death to silence her. You are therefore found guilty as charged,” he said.