Image via Adobe Stock
Image via Adobe Stock
The Mqanduli Regional Court sentenced taxi driver, Ntsindiso Gwentshula, to 25 years in jail for raping a 17-year-old matriculant he had given a lift to in the midst of her final exams.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said that the victim had left her home in Kroza Village to travel to Elliotdale town to prepare for her Grade 12 examinations with her schoolmates on 3 November 2019.
“When it was time to go home, there were no taxis going back to her home village. While still trying to hitchhike, Gwentshula, 27, who was known to the then four-months pregnant victim, gave her a lift and promised to take her to her home,” Tyali said.
However, the taxi driver stopped at certain homestead and told her he was taking money to the owner of the taxi, only to reemerge after 10pm that night.
“Before they could reach the victim’s village, Gwentshula made another stop, demanded that the terrified teenager alight from his taxi, dragged her to another homestead and repeatedly raped her,” Tyali said.
“On the following morning, Gwentshula forced the victim to wash with cold water before releasing her to go write her Life Science examination, that she just managed to pass. Before dropping her off, Gwentshula threatened to kill her if she reported the rape to the police.”
When she finished her exams, the victim telephoned her mother, cried and asked that she travel home from her place of work. The mother and her daughter agreed that they should only report the matter after she finished writing her exams.
“When Gwentshula was arrested, taxi operators from Elliotdale took the mother and daughter to the Mqanduli police station and instructed them to withdraw the charges. The investigating officer advised them to tell the taxi operators, who had been waiting outside, that the docket was no longer in Mqanduli and had been taken by the regional court prosecutor, Melikhaya Dyakopu, and there was nothing that could be done once the docket reached him,” Tyali said.
During trial, Gwentshula pleaded not guilty to the rape, claiming to have been framed by the mother of the victim because she tried to extort money from him. However, under cross-examination by the prosecutor, he contradicted himself and even contradicted his lawyer and witness.
Magistrate, Noluvo Mhlana agreed with the prosecutor that Gwentshula deserved a lengthy sentence. She said he had abused the victim and there were other implications after the rape because she had been dumped by the father of her unborn child after he heard about the rape, she was threatened by taxi operators and did not pass her matric well as a result of the attack.