Wednesday, 27 April 2005

Ambulance rape chilling, says judge

Ingrid Oellermann

April 27 2005 at 09:39AM

Three men were convicted in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday of having hijacked an ambulance and kidnapped two paramedics in the early hours of February 17 2004, but only one was found guilty of sexually abusing the ambulance crew in what the judge termed "a very traumatic manner".

Sentencing was postponed to May 3.

Thamsanqa Buthelezi, 22, of Mayville, Durban, was found guilty of raping the female ambulance assistant by physically forcing her colleague to perform a sexual act with her, as well as two counts of indecent assault relating to sexual acts he committed while holding the two at gunpoint.

Judge Jan Combrink with two assessors said despite the fact that Buthelezi did not personally have sexual intercourse with the woman, the actions he had forced the male paramedic to perform "in every way" fitted the legal definition of rape.

Combrink said that throughout the ordeal the woman had protested and her colleague had also tried to resist, but they were forced at the point of a gun to comply and were also struck by Buthelezi.

He said Buthelezi's co-accused - Siphesihle Khumalo, 22, and Mbusiswa Zondi, 21, both of Taylor's Halt, near Pietermaritzburg - could not be found guilty of the sexual assaults by Buthelezi because the evidence did not show that they performed any act of association with Buthelezi's conduct in this regard.

In law a bystander - even one who approved - could not be found guilty of forming a common purpose to commit a crime unless he or she performed an act of association, the judge said.

He rejected the defences raised by all three men that they had not voluntarily participated in the hijacking of the ambulance or in kidnapping the paramedics.

Only Khumalo had testified in his defence, and the judge rejected his evidence as palpably false wherever it differed from the version presented by the prosecution witnesses.

Combrink said he had applied the cautionary rule when considering the evidence of the two accomplices to the hijacking, Sbusiso Ndlovu and Simon Seatlana, who were self-confessed criminals.

But he said there was ample corroboration for their version, which tallied with the state's evidence, and there were several other safeguards present.

The judge granted Ndlovu and Seatlana indemnity from prosecution in the case.

Earlier, Combrink described as "chilling" the tale the two men told about how they, the three accused and two other accomplices, Xolani Makhoba and man known as "Landani", had met up and had agreed to drive around the city in search of a Toyota Hiace to hijack in order to satisfy a buyer who had allegedly offered to pay R20 000 for one.

It was plain their plan had not been to merely steal a vehicle, but to rob a driver at gunpoint.

"It was fortunate for some unknown, indeterminate victim that they could not find a suitable vehicle to hijack. It became late in the day and eventually a plan was settled upon to order an ambulance on the pretext of a medical emergency."

The judge found it proved that the first ambulance which responded to a call by the hijackers near Cedara College had been sent away by Seatlana because it was a Ford and not a Toyota Hiace.

Six members of the group, including the accused, then decided to make one more attempt to secure the right vehicle and created another bogus emergency, summoning an ambulance to Pholani Bottle Store in Imbali. This was the vehicle that was hijacked.

The vehicle was eventually stripped of its wheels in a forested area and set alight, apparently in an attempt to remove any fingerprints.

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Mercury on April 27, 2005


Saturday, 16 April 2005

The most abhorrent act a person can commit

April 15 2005 at 10:58AM

By Joseph Makua

A mother-of-two has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the death of her newborn baby.

Mokgadi Patience Rathlalane, 31, of Zone 3 in Diepkloof, Soweto, had pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of her baby, who died last year.

Passing sentence at the Johannesburg regional court, magistrate Zacharia Machobane said he was surprised when he discovered on Thursday that the baby had died long ago but the charge had not been changed from attempted murder to murder.

Rathlalane showed no signs of discomfort The prosecution, social workers and the defence in the case failed to explain why the baby's death was not disclosed. The court had not been told that the baby had died two months later, in January 2004.

Rathlalane had pleaded guilty in October last year to the attempted murder charge. She had been in custody after her arrest on the day of the incident in November 2003.

Machobane said that, given that the baby had died, the court was supposed to sentence Rathlalane for murder and not attempted murder. He said it was too late to change the charge, because the court was already sitting for sentencing.

Handing down sentence, the magistrate said: "This is the most abhorrent act a person can commit."

"To give birth in a toilet, throw the baby out the window and then continue with work as if nothing happened!"

"You have two childbirth experiences and your mother helps you with the kids. What then prompted you to kill this one when at least you were taking home R400 per month from the project?"

A colleague who worked with her had testified that Rathlalane had never complained or showed signs of discomfort. At some point, Rathlalane had left the group and went to the toilets. When she returned, she continued with her work as if nothing had happened.

When she got home, she told her mother, who then rushed to the Sivuseni project in Diepkloof.

Upon investigation, the newborn baby boy was found alive with head injuries.

Two years of the 10-year sentence has been suspended for five years.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on April 15, 2005

Source: IOL

Two slain in brutal housebreaking attacks

Anil Singh

April 12 2005 at 06:59PM

Two people have been killed in separate attacks during home robberies in the space of two hours in Pinetown.

In the first attack, while Petrus van Rooyen was laying a charge of theft at a local police station on Monday, his wife, Catherine Elizabeth Ferreira, was being brutally attacked and stabbed with a sharp instrument.

When Van Rooyen returned to his caravan on a smallholding he discovered his wife's bloody body. The caravan had been ransacked and a DVD player, car radio and an angle grinder had been stolen.

A distraught Van Rooyen, a mechanic, said on Tuesday that while he was at the Hillcrest police station he received a desperate call from Ferreira to say that a group of men were attempting to rob her.

"When I rushed back to the farm, I found her dead inside the caravan. Earlier on Monday she called me while I was at the workshop to say there was a group of men acting very suspiciously near the caravan. I went to the farm and chased them and they fled into the bushes.

"I then went to the Hillcrest police station to lay a complaint and while I was there I received another call from her to say that the thieves were back. I rushed to the farm but they had already killed her."

Van Rooyen said that last Friday while they were out thieves had broken into their caravan and stolen blankets, a kettle and a microwave oven.

Van Rooyen and Ferreira had lived together for the last three years. She had two children from a previous marriage.

Two hours after Ferreira was killed police were called to Oak Road, Pinetown, after a neighbour discovered the bludgeoned body of Fredrick Esterhuizen, 48.

Police said Esterhuizen, who lived alone in a house, was confronted by three men who tied his hands and legs with nylon rope and then put him in the spare bedroom. He was then repeatedly hit on the head with a baseball bat.

Investigators from the Durban Serious Violent Crime Unit said the house had been vandalised.

It appears that the killers had packed a large quantity of goods into the garage and were in the process of stealing Esterhuizen's car when they fled. Police suspect that they might have been disturbed or were unable to start the car.

Police said it seemed that Esterhuizen put up a tremendous fight with his attackers as there was blood all over the house. He had more then 10 stab wounds.

Neighbours declined to speak about the killing, only saying that Esterhuizen lived alone. He was divorced and had two children.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on April 12, 2005

Source: IOL

Monday, 4 April 2005

Trio execute dad in attack on plot

Graeme Hosken

April 01 2005 at 08:59AM

Two Pretoria children were forced to listen to their father beg for his life moments before he was shot and killed execution-style by three men during an armed robbery.

Pieter Swart, 49, a director at a city engineering company, was overpowered on Thursday along with his 14-year-old son Ferdie and 12-year-old daughter Lisa, while at his home on his smallholding in Kameelfontein north-east of Pretoria.

The three were spending the day at their Rinkhals Street home and were due to meet their mother, Louisa, for movies on Thursday night.

The three gunmen broke into the house after overpowering two gardeners and two domestic workers just after 11am.

The robbers forced one of the domestic workers to take them to Swart where they attacked him, pistol-whipping him before tying him up using ties.

They then forced him and the two children into a bedroom where they bound all three.

The gunmen, who were armed with an assortment of handguns, then dragged Swart out of the bedroom through the house demanding valuables.

It is believed that one of the men forced Swart to beg for his life before he was executed after he refused to show his attackers where the safe was.

Swart's body was found on the steps close to Ferdie's bedroom.

Thursday's was the fourth attack on Swart's home in the past three months and the eighth such attack in the Kameelfontein area since June last year.

Two months ago another smallholding owner and his wife were attacked by a gang of four men.

The man was also shot execution-style. A member of the local commando said crime was out of control in the area.

"Just about every night we receive calls for help from smallholding owners who are being robbed and attacked.

"This place is out of control," said the commando member.

Police spokesperson Inspector Anton Breedt said that police were alerted to the killing after Swart's son managed to call for help from his cellphone.

Ferdie hid his cellphone under his bed when the gunmen stormed into his room.

Breedt said that they were conducting a massive search for the killers with members of the police Airwing, Dog Unit, Flying Squad and Mamelodi and Kameeldrift police stations.

"During the initial search police dogs found a suitcase containing clothing belonging to Swart. It is unknown at this stage if anything else is missing from the house," he said.

Neighbours, who had seen Swart before the attack, said they were shocked by what had happened.

A neighbour, whose property is a game farm, said he had been trying to catch blesbok when the attack occurred.

"I was sitting outside waiting for the buck to walk into my trap when the next moment dozens of police cars came racing up the street.

"When I went to find out what was happening they told me Pieter was dead.

"I could not believe it because the whole time that I was sitting at the trap in the street I did not hear a thing," said the game farmer, who did not want to be identified.

He said the area had become extremely unsafe in the past couple of months.

"This killing just goes to show that the police have to step in and do something about the crime levels in our area," he said. - Crime Reporter

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on April 01, 2005

Source: IOL