By Jonk wa Mashamba
The Moretele Regional Court has sentenced Benjamin Bapela (30) to life imprisonment on five counts of rape.
Bapela was sentenced to a further 10 years imprisonment on count two, 15 years on count three, four and five and life imprisonment in respect of all five rape charges. He was also declared unfit to posses a firearm.
He was convicted for raping Motsatsi Matlou (26) in 2013. Matlou was walking from a tavern in Temba in the early hours of the morning when she met with Bapela who grabbed and pulled her into the nearby bushes and raped her. In 2016, he raped Mmule Mpye (18) in Temba at a tavern in the early hours of the morning. Mpye allegedly went outside to answer her phone when Bapela emerged from behind, throttled her and pulled her to the fence and raped her.
In a separate incident in 2016 at a place called Suurman, in the early hours of the morning again, Bapela raped Nthabiseng Khoza (21). She was from her boyfriend’s home when Bapela emerged and assaulted her before dragging her into the nearby bushes and raped her. He was also charged for raping Dipuo Matsa (21) who was sleeping in a shack with her two- year-old child when she heard someone in the house. Upon inspection, she met Bapela who threatened her and her child with a knife. He then raped her and fled the scene.
According to Henry Mamothame
Spokesperson NPA (NW Division), Bapela was also convicted of raping a pregnant and asthmatic Lisbeth Mangwedi (22) in 2016 in Sekampaneng.
“He was allegedly in the company of an unknown man who also allegedly raped Mangwedi. On her way to the clinic, Mangwedi met with the two men who grabbed and throttled her while threatening her with a firearm. They took turns to rape her and fled the scene,” Mamothame said.
In aggravation of a maximum sentence, the state prosecutor, Muriel Masilana urged the court to consider the Victims Impact Statements as they demonstrate the impact theses offences had in their lives. She further argued that the offence has dented their dignity for a long time.
The Acting Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West, Advocate Rachel Makhari – Sekhaolelo welcomed the conviction and hailed it a success for the criminal justice system in demonstrating its seriousness in dealing with issues of Gender Based Violence and Femicide.