Johannesburg – A spontaneous clapping of hands broke out in the public gallery after a judge sentenced a serial rapist and killer to five life terms as well an additional total of more than 210 years behind bars.
Charles Mthethwa, 35, a Zimbabwean national, is unlikely to ever walk the streets again, as he is already serving six life terms for a series of other rapes and another murder he committed.
He will serve his total of 11 life terms at the Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria.
The 10 victims in his latest rape spree packed the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, yesterday, to hear his sentence.
While Judge Papi Mosopa was dealing with the impact which the rapes had on the victims – one who was a 14-year-old – several of the victims cried bitterly and had to be consoled by family members.
They said afterwards they were happy the man would never walk the streets again.
Mthethwa’s crime career started in 2013 when he raped the wife of a police officer in Thohoyandou. He was arrested at the time, but managed to evade the police. He continued with his rape and robbery spree up to July 2015, when he was arrested by the community in Ivory Park following one of the rapes.
The victim was at the time busy making a statement to the police at the ivory Park police station, when members of the community arrived there with Mthethwa. The victim recognised him and he was arrested.
His DNA was linked to an array of other rapes, robberies, kidnappings and two murders.
Mthethwa was last year sentenced in the High Court in Thohoyandou for several of the crimes, when he received six life terms.
He subsequently appeared in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on the remaining 24 charges against him, as these crimes were committed in and around the city.
Mthethwa pleaded guilty to all charges. Apart from simply admitting he did act unlawfully and was sorry for what he had done, he hardly spoke. He refused to take the stand to explain why he had conducted a reign of terror for three years. After receiving his sentence, he said in a quiet voice he understood the sentence, before walking down to the holding cells under the watchful eyes of prison guards.
During some of the rapes he was assisted by accomplices, but Mthethwa remained tight-lipped as to who they were.
His victims gasped in shock when Judge Mosopa remarked during sentencing that these men were still prowling the streets.
One of the investigating officers in the cases, Warrant Officer Hendrik Visser, vowed that they wouldn’t give up until they also had those people behind bars.
The judge described Mthethwa’s conduct as “barbaric” and said he was definitely not a candidate for rehabilitation.
He had prowled on unsuspecting women and his modus operandi was usually the same. He suffered from HIV/Aids and never used a condom during the rapes.
He dragged his victims into dark bushes, where he either threatened them with a knife or throttled them, until they handed over their money. He then raped them and left them in the bushes.
In one case he went too far and strangled the mother of a 3-year-old, Miriam Modika, to death.
She was on her way to work, when she was overpowered on the outskirts of Centurion. After he had strangled her to death, he left her body in the bushes, where it was later discovered.
Her mother, Lucy Modika, told the Pretoria News she had forgiven Mthethwa, as God would deal with him one day.
The court said he had no respect for his victims. In one case a woman who had experienced family problems, was praying at a “sacred place” when Mthethwa suddenly appeared next to her. He also went down on his knees and asked her to pray for him too.
While the victim was praying with closed eyes, he pounced on her, throttled her and raped her.
Judge Mosopa said rape in the country was on the increase.
“Women and children cannot walk the streets without fear of violenceIt appears that the government is fighting a losing battle.”