Three men have been found guilty of the Rhodes Park murders.

By Azzarah Karrim of the Wits Justice Project

It was an emotional day at the South Gauteng High Court today as the three men accused of attacking two couples in 2015 – murdering the two men and raping the two women – at Rhodes Park in Kensington, have been sentenced after being convicted for robbery, murder and rape.

Admore Ndlovu, Thabo Nkala and Mduduzi Mathibela, were handed four life sentences each by Judge Masopa plus 15 years for robbery. The three were part of a group of 12 men that attacked the married couples as they strolled through the park in the late afternoon. The men were tied up and ordered into the lake where they drowned while their wives were raped.

In sentencing the three, Masopa said that “the behavior [of the men] the day of the attacks was not of human beings”. He added, “The accused did not show an ounce of remorse despite the evidence against them.”

As Judge Masopa read out his verdict, the victims of the attacks broke down in tears, reliving their trauma through his statement. They found comfort though from a number of community members who attended the sentencing.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane said that justice had been served today.

“We managed to secure maximum sentences for all five counts. We are restoring confidence in our criminal justice system.” she said, but added that “for the victims the scars will take longer to heal, there might be closure here today but honestly speaking they will never forget what happened to them”.

Yoliswa Makhasi, head of the Department for Community Safety, also attending the sentencing and said her department was happy with the ruling. “We think that the criminal justice system has worked in favour of women and it is sending a very strong message to communities out there, and men who continue to rape women, and to people out there who continue to commit crimes.”

As to the safety of Rhodes Park from here onwards, Makhasi said that precautions are being taken in order to make it safer for the larger community.

“There is a lot of work happening in the park; including the fitting of some cameras … we are continuously looking at how we can support to improve safety in public spaces through deploying our community patrollers who work closely with the police.”