Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A 32-YEAR-OLD Zimbabwean who has been terrorising villagers in communities around Polokwane in South Africa’s Limpopo province has been slapped with two life sentences and 180 years in jail for rape, kidnapping, robbery and assault.
Tinashe Max Makisi Virima of Masvingo terrorised communities, especially women. Some of his victims included couples having sex inside cars at secluded areas.
He was convicted of 38 counts of robbery, rape and kidnapping by a Thohoyandou High Court division judge on Friday last week.
Virima had pleaded not guilty to all the charges, telling the court that he was in Zimbabwe when the offences were committed.
Virima committed the crimes between March 2012 and April 2015. He kidnapped, assaulted, and raped his victims. He committed the offences in the company of his friends who are still at large.
“They would ambush the complainants in their cars, rob them and would go on to rape the female victims. Some of the rape victims would be raped after their houses were broken into,” said National Prosecuting Authority provincial spokesperson for Limpopo, Mr Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi.
The court heard that Virima targeted people who were walking at night. In some instances, he would break into homes where he would rob and rape women between the ages of 14 and 35.
The prosecutor, Advocate Zwodangani Mabodi, led oral and DNA evidence which linked him to the crimes. The court imposed the prescribed life sentences in the rape and 15 years each in the robbery committed under aggravating circumstances. The sentences will run concurrently.
South African police provincial commissioner for Limpopo Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba said Virima’s arrest was a milestone achievement in the fight against serious and violent crimes, which include rape, particularly where firearms and other dangerous weapons are used.
“We are determined to clean all the affected areas of any acts of criminality. We urge the community to continue supporting us by giving quality and reliable information at all times,” he said.
Last year in October, another 36-year-old Zimbabwean cross-border transporter believed to be the ring leader of a syndicate that terrorised fellow countrymen in South Africa was jailed for 350 years in the neighbouring country after he was convicted of 62 charges on crimes that include murder, rape, robbery, extortion and assault.