A 33-year-old serial rapist has been handed one of the country's heaviest sentences with a total of 1,258 years in jail.
Bongani Masuku was handed down a total of 20 life terms and an additional 758 years at the South Gauteng High Court, sitting in Benoni magistrate's court, for charges including murder, rape, kidnapping, house robbery, robbery and assault.
Judge Carla van Veenendaal did not order for the sentences to run concurrently.
Masuku's eight-year reign of terror between 2010 and last year was localised in the north western townships of Pretoria, which include Soshanguve, Loate, Mabopane and Klipgat, where he and his gang would target young women, rob and rape them.
The gang also committed house robberies with the intention to rob and rape their victims. He faced 35 counts of rape and a count of murder for killing an off-duty police officer on January 7 last year.
The officer and his partner were on their way home when they were accosted by Masuku and another man. The officer was shot in the stomach. They then dragged the officer's partner to a secluded area and raped her.
Van Veenendaal described Masuku's crimes as bearing an element of violence as he and his gang targeted the youngest of victims to rape.
"For eight years, he was a predator … Fathers couldn't protect their families and daughters from being raped, while mothers couldn't live in safety," she said.
Van Veenendaal said though Masuku pleaded guilty to all the charges, he was "arrogant throughout court proceedings and went as far as claiming that they were spoilt for choice with regards to the victims they targeted".
Their victims were aged between 14 and 27. They would point a firearm at a victim, forcing them to enter their vehicle and driving out to a secluded area where the gang would take turns in raping them.
These are some of the lengthiest jail terms handed down to perpetrators in the country after being found to have committed a string of heinous crimes.
– Mhlonipheni Mjadu, 26, was sentenced to a total of 292 years in jail in the Mtubatuba High Court in KZN in June for rape, robbery, house breaking and attempted rape;
– Moses Sithole, who was one of South Africa's most notorious serial killers, who murdered 38 people while raping 40 victims in what was known as the ABC Murders, was handed down a prison sentence of 2,410 years;
– Cedric Maake is serving a 1,340-year prison sentence for 27 murders he committed in Gauteng between 1996 and 1997. Maake was also convicted of 26 attempted murders, 14 rapes and 41 robberies; and
– Jack Mogale is serving 16 life terms and an additional 23 years for murdering 16 people, raping 19 victims and kidnapping nine others during his reign of terror in Westonaria and Lenasia between 2008 and 2009. – Tankiso Makhetha.
In some instances, Masuku and his accomplices would force their way into their victims' homes where they robbed and raped them.
Van Veenendaal said the victims told the court about the extent which the incidents affected them through their victim impact statements.
"After being raped, one of the victims had to go for surgery because of how violent the rape was and that as a result, she could no longer have any children.
"Others said they could not sleep, they feared being around men or were scared that the perpetrators would return. They felt unsafe and had an inability to trust men and that their relationships were negatively affected," said Van Veenendaal.
She said some of the victims could not complete their studies or continue with their exams after the attacks.
One of the victims, who was 14 when she was attacked by Masuku and his gang in 2017, told Sowetan yesterday she was happy with the lengthy jail term handed down to the father of two.
"It [the attack] happened at a time when I was writing my exams. I passed despite that, but I am still dealing with the trauma and I don't know when I will be able to recover from it," said the girl who is now 16.