verdict today on 7 RAPISTs

AT LEAST 12 women are raped every week inThembisa.

AT LEAST 12 women are raped every week inThembisa.

This was revealed in the South Gauteng high court yesterday during a plea for mitigation of sentence in the case of seven men convicted of raping a 32-year-old woman in 2005.

Social worker Lydia Malele, who had interviewed Bongani Nhlapho, the youngest of the accused, said 97 rape cases were reported in Thembisa between July and August this year.

She said 90percent of the rape cases heard by the Germiston magistrate's court happened in Thembisa.

"Since July this year 97 cases have been reported," she said.

The SA Police Service's 2008 statistics showed that 36190 women were raped across the country. This was an 11,9percent decrease compared to the previous year. Gauteng had the most reported cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.

One of the convicted men, Thabiso Thukwane, 23, told the judge to review her decision because he "didn't do it".

"I do not accept the conviction, all I ask is that the court reverse the decision because I did not commit the crime," he said.

But after his defence counsel called him to order, Thukwane, who has a pending case of car hijacking, pleaded for a suspended sentence.

"I request a suspended sentence. The court has done its work and I have been found guilty, now I'm asking for leniency," he said.

Thukwane and Nhlapho, co-accused Sello Mohlala, Oupa Mohlala, Moeketsi Mphuthi, Kabelo Mwale and Mojalefa Seleka will be sentenced today.

The victim had testified that the seven broke into her house while she was asleep and raped her repeatedly. They then forced her at gunpoint to walk with them to a nearby informal settlement where she was raped again behind a pit toilet.

Jeffrey Maluleke, a probation officer who had interviewed two of the accused and their families , said alcohol abuse and peer pressure might have contributed to their crime.

"They come from an environment where alcohol abuse is a serious problem."

The accused pleaded that they came from broken homes, lived in poverty and were young at the time of the offence.