The Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda has sentenced a 22-year-old man to 25 years’ imprisonment for rape and attempting to rape five women between 2015 and 2018.
According to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani, the man, Thulani Lamani, was 17 years old when he committed his first two rapes and attempted rape offences in 2015 and 2016.
Judge Judith Roberson sentenced him to a combined 57 years’ imprisonment for raping four women aged between 15 and 26, eight years for attempting to rape a 21-year-old woman, three years for housebreaking and to three and five years for robbery with aggravating circumstances. Roberson ordered that some of the sentences run concurrently.
As a result, Lamani will serve 25 years’ direct imprisonment. This came after he was found guilty of all these crimes on 3 September.
On 30 May 2015, a 26-year-old woman was walking alone at night in Elliot when Lamani and a group of men demanded money and her cellphone. One of them robbed her cellphone. As she attempted to run away, Lamani, armed with a knife, pursued and grabbed her and raped her twice.
The following year on 27 February, in Elliot, Lamani broke into the home of two sisters, aged 21 and 15, who lived with their mother. They were all sleeping with four young children. Armed with a knife, Lamani threatened them and took a television set. He raped the 15-year-old girl twice and attempted but failed to rape the older sister, who was eight months pregnant at the .
Eight months late, on 29 October 2016 also in Elliot, Lamani raped a 17-year-old girl. The victim had visited a tavern with friends when she left alone to go home. Lamani, who was also at the tavern, offered to walk her home. She agreed as she knew and trusted him. Near his home, he drew a knife, stabbed her in the arm and forced her into his house. Lamani raped her in the house and threatened her not to tell anyone.
‘Reign of terror’
In 2017, Lamani was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for assault with a knife.
After his release on 5 October 2018, again in Elliot, Lamani accosted a 23-year-old woman who was walking home alone in the evening. Lamani, who was wearing a balaclava, drew a knife, held it to her throat and dragged her toward a railway line. He raped her and instructed her to leave afterward.
Only one of the victims knew the identity of the man who raped her. DNA evidence linked Lamani to all the other offences.
After conducting a thorough investigation, Detective Sergeant Zamikhaya Sogiba of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit in Elliot had a breakthrough when Lamani was identified as the perpetrator by the Forensic Science Laboratory in Pretoria as a “person of interest” in all the rape cases.
Subsequent DNA tests linked him to all the rape cases. He was arrested on 17 November 2019.
Senior State Advocate Nickie Turner said Lamani had displayed a pattern of behaviour throughout his reign of terror, inconsistent with his young age.
“He was always armed with a knife and he had a particular modus operandi of attacking his victims from behind and not only raping them from in front, but also instructing them to turn over on their stomachs or go on all fours so that he could penetrate them from behind. The accused clearly sought to humiliate his victims in addition to the gross invasion of their privacy,” she said.