Porn seen as trigger for UCT rape spree

15 November 2016 - 08:19 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE

Pornography helped turn Mthunzi Hlomane into a notorious UCT rapist.

Within hours of watching porn movies he unleashed a reign of terror on women with braided hair similar to that worn by the porn actresses.

Hlomane, 43, who attacked female students near the Rhodes Memorial at the University of Cape Town between November 2015 and February 2016, admitted this during sentencing in the Cape Town High Court yesterday.

He was sentenced to nine life terms for rape and 15 years for robbery.

He told the court how he kidnapped, raped, sodomised, assaulted and robbed six women during his four-month crime spree.

Yesterday, details of how he forced blindfolded women to walk naked while creating the impression that he was taking pictures of them with his cellphone were heard.

He forced them to share details of their "private lives". He even contacted three of his victims after their ordeal.

"[Hlomane] threatened to post the photographs he took, or pretended to take, of [one of his] victims on social media if she did not co-operate and also tied her up and threatened to leave her on her own should she not co-operate, which added to her trauma," a court document related.

Hlomane faced 28 charges but pleaded guilty to 12 counts of rape, five of robbery with aggravating circumstances and one of kidnapping.

In January the university offered a a R100000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the rapist. When he was caught, in February, the police initially linked him to a rape on November 19 2015.

"Prior to November 2015 [Hlomane], through a cellphone, obtained internet access. He utilised it to watch adult pornography," his plea and sentencing agreement reads. "Particular to these scenes were the fact that in many the female performers had braids. Watching the films caused [him] to be aroused with a preference for females who had braids.

''[He] admitted that in some instances the [victims] had a shared feature in that they had braids."

Armed with a knife, stick or rock, Hlomane lurked near the secluded Rhodes Memorial and there confronted his defenceless victims. They were either walking or jogging in the area and suffered injuries ranging from head and face trauma to nasal and jaw dislocation in the attacks.

"All the crimes [Hlomane] pleaded to are serious and involve vulnerable victims: young women, walking or jogging alone. These rapes were committed after [they] had been planned by [Hlomane] in that he targeted victims fitting a certain profile. Not only the rapes in total but also the individual rapes were committed over a period of time and [Hlomane] thus had ample time to reconsider his actions," the statement read.

The rapist claimed that he was "sincerely sorry" and "deeply" apologised to the victims.

Handing down judgment, Judge Mushtak Parker said the fear inspired in women by Hlomane was still fresh in the minds of South Africans.

"I was surprised that no institution or NGO had taken up the plight of these victims and spoken on their behalf," said Parker.

He said he had thought some victims would testify.

But he was assured by the "state that all complainants are satisfied" with the plea and sentencing agreement "and they want closure".

UCT welcomed the sentencing. Spokesman Elijah Moholola said the university would continue its "efforts to fight the terrible scourge of sexual violence".

"Our thoughts remain with the survivors of these horrific and violent attacks, who suffered the most.

"Many staff and students were also deeply affected by the news of each traumatic incident and in the time before the arrest our community was gripped by fear."

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