/ 11 March 2024

Court convicts serial rapist who stalked teens on South Coast

diepsloot rape lerato Delwyn Verasamy
File photo by Delwyn Verasamy

The reign of terror of a South Coast serial rapist, Sakhile Bhekisisa Mhlungu, who would drive around in his bakkie, with a firearm, on the prowl for his next teenage victim, came to an end when he was found guilty of 19 charges including child rape, kidnapping and robbery on Friday.  

Scottburgh regional court magistrate Asheena Bacharam convicted Mhlungu, 44, of the crimes after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of rape, seven counts of kidnapping, a count of attempting a sexual offence, robbery and discharging a firearm.

Mhlungu cruised the streets of small towns where he either offered lifts to, or forced his 10 young victims, aged between 11 and 17, as well as one 22-year-old woman, into his vehicle at gunpoint, in broad daylight, before driving them to secluded areas, where he raped them. 

His attorney Leslie Pillay read out Mhlungu’s guilty pleas in court on Friday. The names of his victims have been withheld to protect them.

The crimes took place between April 2019 and April 2021. Police arrested him on 1 March 2022 and their investigation, and DNA evidence, linked him to the crimes.

In his statement, Mhlungu described how he had targeted one of his 17-year-old victims close to the Mahawini bus stop, near Braemar, at 3.30pm on 14 February 2022.

“I offered her a lift in my white bakkie … I took her near the Ifafa turnoff in the Ephangweni area and, when she attempted to get out, I pointed her with my firearm and told her to remain in the vehicle. 

“I then drove her at gunpoint into a forested area and threatened to remove her clothing,” Mhlungu said. He then raped her. 

“I knew fully well at the time of the offence that the complainant did not consent to me having sexual intercourse with her and I admit that I had deprived her of her freedom by threatening her with a firearm and taking her against her will,” Mhlungu said.

“I am deeply remorseful for my actions, and I apologise to the complainant, her family and my family as well.”

In his plea, Mhlungu said he “knew fully well” that his youngest victim, an 11-year-old girl, was a minor who had not consented to having sex with him after he kidnapped her near the Thoyi Bridge in Highflats.

“I met the complainant who was walking home from school. I stopped alongside her, pointed my firearm, and instructed her to get into my motor vehicle … I took her [to] Thoyi Bridge, near Thoyi, and forced her against her will,” Mhlungu said.

“I fired a shot with the firearm and, at gunpoint, I threatened her to remove her clothing, after which I inserted my penis into her vagina and had sexual intercourse with her,” he said.

Mhlungu said he had raped her despite knowing he was committing a crime against a minor.

“I was in my sound and sober senses at the time of the offence being committed. I don’t have a valid explanation or defence. In the circumstance, I plead guilty to the aforesaid charges,” he said. 

He said his attorney had informed him that DNA evidence had linked him to the rapes. 

Mhlungu told the court he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions on all counts.  

Pillay asked the court for sentencing to be postponed to give Mhlungu time to consult with his family, a request the state prosecutor, Active Njokazi, said he did not oppose as the state wanted to consult the victims.

Bacharam said the matter had been on the court roll since 5 May 2022 and was “backlogged”.

“We need to finalise the case as soon as possible. Sentencing will be on 19 March,” Bacharam said.

Mhlungu signed a document admitting that he had been convicted of one count of housebreaking in 1991, for which he had served time in prison. 

He was remanded in custody.