‘Anger and despair’: Serial rapist’s victims give harrowing testimony
They hope their horrifying victim impact statements ensure he gets a severe prison term
Joseph Rasempane Mahloma will spend much of this week hearing how he ruined the lives of the women he raped.
On Monday, the serial rapist who terrorised Tembisa and Ivory Park during a seven-month spree finally began his sentencing proceedings after a marathon three-year trial.
The Johannesburg High Court had in 2018 convicted him on 91 criminal charges, including numerous counts of rape, robbery, assault and defeating the ends of justice.
In two particularly degrading incidents, he had forced his victims to use sewage drain water to wash their genitalia, seemingly an attempt to destroy DNA evidence that could have led to his capture.
State prosecutors Leisha Surendra and Debbie Zinn took turns on Monday to read the first two victim impact statements, with eight more expected to be heard on Thursday.
Mahloma seemed unfazed, sitting calmly in the dock, wrapped in his mustard yellow jacket. He listened to how the first two victims’ lives and relationships had become exponentially harder to maintain.
The first woman was 23 years old when he broke into her home in Tembisa, repeatedly hitting her as he ordered her not to scream.
After he raped her, he smacked her again with his firearm and she passed out. When she awoke, her few valuables were gone, as was Mahloma.
Last year, she spoke to a social worker who was tasked with finding out how her life had been affected by the traumatic experience. Half a decade later, she’s still unable to trust, having lost her faith in humanity.
Suffering from regular panic attacks, she lives in a state of fear and is unsure if she’ll ever heal. She struggles to speak about what happened, and has been unable to tell her family the full story.
No longer able to “be intimate” with her boyfriend, her relationships have been ruined. She wants a sentence that will protect others from Mahloma’s dangerous behaviour, as she doesn’t want anyone to suffer what she did.
The second woman from Monday’s proceedings was so unwilling to relive the horrible events that she asked her interviewer to not contact her direct family to ask for their perspective on what happened.
She knew that if she had to discuss the rape with her immediate family, she’d be unable to cope with the emotional stress. In 2014, she too found herself faced with an armed Mahloma, who had broken into her home to steal her television, a few valuables and some clothes.
During this incident, he had accomplices. After raping the woman at gunpoint, he summoned them to help him remove her belongings from her home.
Living in a state of perpetual fear, she’s anxious the men who helped him – who know where she lives – could come back, as only Mahloma was arrested for the crime.
She was only able to attend six counselling sessions before she could no longer afford to attend, and says her main coping mechanism is her faith in God. “Prayer is the avenue to release anger and despair,” she told the author of her victim impact statement.
But she has yet to heal fully. She’s constantly thinking about the rape and the possibility she could be attacked again. She struggles to have sex, as it can trigger memories of what happened. It changed her life “in the most severe and brutal way”.
The women’s impact statements both concluded in the same way, with their respective interviewers acknowledging the effects of what happened to them were lifelong. A lifelong feeling of indignity. A life turned upside down.
Earlier in the day, Zinn and Surendra also presented a probation officer’s report that called for the 31-year-old serial rapist to be placed in prison for his crimes.
Social worker and probation officer Xoliswa Budaza had interviewed the accused, as well as numerous members of his family, to construct her analysis. She noted during her interviews that Mahloma believed sex strengthened relationships, yet he was prone to one-night stands. He continued to insist he was innocent of the rape spree, but was willing to concede that some of the woman identified as his victims could have been some of his “one-night-stand experiences”. He also revealed to her he had been arrested in Limpopo for rape and robbery, but that after escaping from custody in 2013, he was unsure what happened to that criminal case.
Mahloma had told Budaza that since his incarceration, he had “become a believer” and was pursuing religious studies in prison.
Budaza was convinced Mahloma should receive a custodial sentence, as he posed a danger to society. She also suggested he be imprisoned so he would have access to rehabilitation services, though she was not convinced he would take to such rehabilitation easily due to his apparent lack of remorse.
On Thursday, the harrowing statements from another eight of Mahloma’s victims will be read into the court record.