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Serial rapist Sithole jailed for 78 years

Simone Sithole, a Mozambican who for years raped women and children in a Mamelodi East informal settlement in Pretoria, was sentenced on Friday to in effect 78 years' imprisonment.

High Court in Pretoria Judge Moses Mavundla sentenced Sithole, 27, to a total of 564 years imprisonment on 45 charges, but ordered that some of the sentences run concurrently.

Sithole pleaded guilty to the charges, including 21 of rape, one of sexual assault, numerous charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, pointing a firearm, and illegal possession of a firearm.

His youngest victim was 11 and three other victims were 16-years-old when he raped them.

All his victims were threatened with a firearm or other dangerous weapons, and most were tied up before they were raped and robbed of cellphones, cash, clothes and jewellery.

One woman was breastfeeding her baby when he accosted her with an axe, but most were asleep when he broke into their shacks in the early hours of the morning.

Sithole came to South Africa in 2007 and raped his first victim a year later. His crimes reached a peak in 2011.

His crime spree continued until shortly before his arrest in March 2013, when he was caught after using a victim's cellphone.

He was later linked to all 21 rapes through DNA evidence.

Sithole had a girlfriend and a young daughter and worked in a hair salon while committing the crimes. He lived in the same vicinity as most of his victims.

Almost all of his victims were unable to identify him because he covered their faces while raping them, but his 11-year-old victim recognised him at a police identity parade.

Mavundla said the individual value of the goods robbed might not be much, but it meant a lot to his victims, who lived in an informal settlement with the poorest of the poor.

He stressed the seriousness of rape, which was a humiliating, degrading and brutal invasion of the dignity and privacy of the victims.

The gravity of the offences was aggravated because of the long period over which Sithole committed the crimes.

Mavundla said Sithole came from Mozambique seeking a better life in South Africa, but showed contempt for its citizens.

The visibly angry mother of Sithole's 11-year-old victim said she was not happy about his sentence, and believed that 500 years would have been better, as he was a threat to every woman and child in the community.

She said she was still angry with Sithole for what he did to her young child and could never forget what he did.

Several of Sithole's victims who attended the trial said they were happy about his sentence, but would never be able to forgive him.

Some of his victims still suffered from nightmares and others said they could not sleep at night and still relived their ordeal.