Pretoria – The High Court in Mpumalanga has convicted and sentenced 27-year-old Simo Thabethe from Elukwatini to two life terms for rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl Nomcebo Thandiwe Khumalo.
Thabethe and the minor girl met on Facebook and became “friends” for three months.
A spokesperson for the South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Mpumalanga, Monica Nyuswa said on December 17, 2020, Thabethe and Nomcebo arranged to meet face to face, and the teenager got the opportunity to see the rapist “when she was sent to a local shop to buy some hair dye”.
“On her way to the shop, they met and the accused requested that they move to a secluded area, where they can have a private conversation, which the deceased resisted. He then grabbed her and dragged her into the nearby forest, and raped her. During the process, the accused broke her neck which led to the death of the deceased,” Nyuswa said.
“He further stole her cellphone and a cash amount of R57 and fled the scene. The accused was arrested four months after the incident happened. This was after the discovery of the deceased’s cellphone which he gave to his brother.”
In court, Thabethe pleaded guilty to all counts and was convicted of rape, murder and theft.
For the State, Advocate Eugene Mathebula handed in a photo album of the crime scene, which depicted the gruesome injuries sustained by Nomcebo during the commission of the offence.
“Mathebula further led the evidence of the deceased’s mother, who testified in aggravation of sentence and the impact it has caused the family. Judge Roelofse sentenced him [Thabethe] to life imprisonment for rape, life for murder and 24 months for theft,” said Nyuswa.
The court ordered the sentences to run concurrently, the effective sentence being life imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority has welcomed the conviction and sentencing of Thabethe “with the hope that it will discourage the would-be Facebook offenders”.
“We further encourage Facebook users to always be vigilant, of the people they communicate with and more so when they decide to meet with them,” said Director of Public Prosecutions in Mpumalanga, Advocate Nkebe Kanyane.