A man who had just pleaded guilty to 14 charges of rape and 11 charges of aggravated robbery, died shortly afterwards in the holding cells of the Ga-Rankuwa Regional Court on Thursday.
Henry Mamothame, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in North-West, says Johannes Jojo Shabangu (35) apparently fell ill and collapsed in a holding cell while the court was in recess.
Judge Andre Petersen received Shabangu’s guilty plea shortly before and found him guilty of all the charges against him. Shabangu asked his victims for forgiveness and was due to be sentenced soon after.
Mamothame says the victim impact reports were at that stage ready to be read out in court so that sentencing could take place. The sentencing was eventually postponed out of necessity because Shabangu had to receive urgent medical treatment.
It later came to light in court that Shabangu was declared dead by paramedics, after which a death certificate was handed over to Petersen.
Petersen consequently declared the court proceedings concluded and ordered that the death certificate be submitted to the North-West Division of the High Court.
“He further decided that an inquest file should be registered to determine the cause of death.”
Between July 2012 and December 2019, Shabangu and unknown accomplices raped several women in Winterveldt, Gauteng, and robbed them of their belongings.
The evidence contained in the indictment indicates that in some cases Shabangu and his accomplices would “confront couples – returning from places of recreation – and threaten them with a firearm, after which they would assault the boyfriends and rob them of their belongings and then rape the female victims in turn”.
“In some cases it appears that they would break into homes and follow the same modus operandi and in other cases they would assault a group of women and rob them before choosing one of the women as their next rape victim.”
According to Mamothame, the youngest of their victims was only 14 years old.
“In his guilty plea, which was read by his lawyer, he accepted responsibility for all the charges he faced and asked for forgiveness from his victims.”
Dr. Rachel Makhari, the director of public prosecutions in the North West, and the provincial police commissioner, Lt. Gen. Sello Kwena, Adv. Nangomso Goloda and Sgt. Moloantoa praised Rapakgadi for their cooperation “to ensure a successful conviction – despite the unfortunate passing of the accused before his sentencing”.