A 23-year-old man, Velisani Mngani, who had unlawful carnal knowledge of a 16-year-old girl and gouged out her eyes, leaving her permanently blind, has been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by the High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division, sitting in Ntabankulu.
The unfortunate incident happened on Good Friday, April 2022.
The victim, Zandiswa Ntshamba, was on her way home after meeting with her boyfriend when the suspect followed her and dragged her into a forest, where he repeatedly r*ped her.
She said after r*ping her, he gouged both her eyes out. One eyeball was left at the scene, and another was found hanging from her eye socket.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in a statement on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, said the court convicted and sentenced Mngani to 30 for r*pe, 13 years for robbery, eight years for attempted murder and five years for kidnapping.
The court also ordered all the sentences to run concurrently with the 30 years for r*pe.
NPA Regional spokesperson, Luxolo Tyali, said Mngani entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the state.
In his plea explanation, he admitted that he was walking in a forest in Ngombonqani Location in the Cabazana Area of EmaXesibeni (formerly Mount Ayliff), when she saw the schoolgirl walking alone in the same forest on the day of 15 April 2022.
He ambushed her, dragged her deep into the forest and repeatedly r*ped her. The victim fought back, beating him on his body and fingers but he overpowered her.
After r*ping her, he decided to kill her to avoid being identified as they come from the same locality. He strangled her with his hands and used a blunt object, stabbed her, poked her eyes out and left her for dead. However, she survived.
The case was postponed several times, as Mngani had to be taken for psychiatric evaluation which confirmed that he was fit to stand trial and could appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.
Arguing for an appropriate sentence, State Advocate Chumile Mkentane, stated that the victim was now dependent on assistance from her family members in almost everything and had to be moved to a school for people living with disabilities in Pretoria.
The court, however, took into consideration mitigating factors and agreed that there are substantial and compelling circumstances justifying the departure from the imposition of the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment.
Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Barry Madolo commended the prosecutor and the investigating team for ensuring that justice is seen to be done for the vulnerable and defenceless in society.