How the ‘expressive’ brutality of a serial rapist became his undoing
The 31-year-old is set to be sentenced for his multitude of crimes
Serial rapist Joseph Rasempane Mahloma’s patterns of behaviour were so unique, it was easy for a police forensic criminologist to link him to 19 rape and robbery case dockets.
For seven months in 2014, he terrorised Tembisa and Ivory Park, in Gauteng, raping more than a dozen women and children, robbing them of their valuables, beating them, threatening them and sometimes insisting they wash their genitalia before and after his attacks.
This week, his sentencing proceedings began in earnest at the Johannesburg High Court after he was convicted in 2018 on 90 counts, including dozens of counts of rape, robbery with aggravating circumstances and kidnapping.
The sentencing proceedings will soon come to an end after Thursday’s closing arguments. The trial took three years to complete, with some witnesses refusing to testify and numerous technical delays.
But integral to the state’s case was Captain Elmarie Myburgh’s report, which helped link Mahloma to each of the dockets through similar fact evidence.
The report explains the role of her “linkage analysis” was to determine if each of the crimes was committed by the same offender, using unique behaviour to build a profile of the criminal.
And according to Myburgh, Mahloma’s behaviour was indeed unique. Mahloma did fit the mould in terms of the locations he chose – geographical comfort zones near where he lived and worked – as well as the type of victims, women whose ages ranged from 15 to 35.
Mahloma was prone to attacking his victims in their homes, sometimes taking them at gunpoint to other locations like abandoned stretches of veld, where the rapes would occur.
“The offender made use of a surprise attack by breaking into their rooms while they were asleep and vulnerable, threatening them with a firearm and robbing them of their valuable items. The presence of other people did not act as a deterrent for this offender because he would merely rob and/or rape them as well,” she said.
The criminologist also labelled Mahloma as someone who tended to use “expressive violence”.
“In these cases, the offender used violence in excess of what was necessary to control the victim. This included behaviour such as hitting them on the head with a blunt object or his firearm, slapping or punching them in the face, pulling their hair or kicking them,” she said.
However, what made Mahloma unique was his precautions before and after his attacks.
While he never wore a condom during the rapes, “he took other precautions such as forcing them to wash their vaginas with water from the toilet, the river or sewage water”.
“Two victims also mentioned that he told them to wipe their genitals. In five incidents he used the victims’ clothes to wipe his penis after the rapes,” the report read.
“This is unique behaviour that the author has never come across before. It is the indication of one offender.”
Another unique aspect was his combination of robbery and rape, with wide-ranging items taken, including cellphones, handbags, wallets, clothing, jewellery, televisions and even beauty products.
Myburgh’s report suggested it was highly unlikely the crimes could be imitated by another offender. While Mahloma was initially convicted on 91 criminal charges, yesterday presiding judge Leicester Adams admitted he had accidentally convicted Mahloma on an extra charge of housebreaking.
While the main body of his judgment reflected there was not enough evidence relating to this charge, the judge admitted that in his final ruling, he had made the erroneous conviction. He, therefore, dropped the charge, meaning Mahloma is guilty on only 90 counts.
Earlier this week, the court heard the harrowing victim impact statements of two of his victims, who said their relationships and lives had been forever damaged by Mahloma’s behaviour.
While another eight statements were expected to be read into the record on Thursday, the state ultimately did not use them, instead opting to argue verbally about the impact Mahloma’s crimes had on his victims.
His lawyer Jacob Kgokane tried to argue in mitigation of his client’s sentence, claiming Mahloma’s tragic upbringing was one of the factors the court should consider when determining the sentence.
Kgokane said Mahloma’s mother had died when his client was just 17 or 18 years old, and that he was forced to become the head of his family household to support them financially.
He also argued his client was a first-time offender, and that while the victims had psychological and emotional trauma, Mahloma had at least spared them from serious physical injury.
However, state prosecutor Leisha Surendra was quick to rebut, saying the court could not ignore the seriousness of the 31-year-old’s crimes, calling for a life sentence for each of his rape charges alone.
The case was postponed to Friday.