See Shackled Rapist Murderer of South African Lesbian as Judge announces Sentence

Sitting in the dock, shackled in chains, a murdering rapist awaits his fate. 

By Melanie Nathan, July 31, 2015.

Thabo Molefe, 47, has been sentenced to a concurrent 22 years for murder and 12 years for raping Lihle Sokhela, 28, a lesbian from Daveyton, Gauteng, South Africa.

A large group of lesbians and supporters descended on the Courts in Pretoria to witness Judge Mokgotsi sentence Molefe for the heinous crimes perpetrated against a beautiful and innocent member of their LGBTI community.

According Lerato Dumse of Inkanyiso, the sentence was disappointing, and described by family member as a mere slap on the wrist:

Joyce “Sibongile” Tshabalala, Lihle’s cousin, sat in the public gallery, supported by members of the LGBTI community, Treatment Action Campaign, Women’s Ecumenical Conference part of the South African Council of Churches, and Commission for Gender Equality. Sibongile felt that the sentence was a mere slap on the wrist, considering that this was the 7th conviction for Molefe, dating back to 1983.

Lihle’s supporters, who attended the High Court trial since day one (Monday July 27 2015), echoed her sentiments.

Indeed this serial criminal should never see the light of day again – yet this sentence means that this rapist murderer will be free, possibly before he turns 69 years of age.  Let us hope that the prison system delivers him the blows he deserves and produces a frail old man, where he will be unable to commit such horrors ever again!

Thabo rapist corrective rape
Sitting in the dock – shackled in chains- a murdering rapist awaits his fate.

Molefe,  defended by Advocate LA van Wyk, had been a friend of Lihle and most tragically Lihle had built a trust in that friendship. The evidence did not support so called “corrective” rape – yet many believe this his motivation – and have assumed that Lihle refused a relationship or sexual relations with Molefe – and so he decided to “teach her a lesson to force her to be straight.”

Not unlike several other known cases of so called  “corrective” rape and murder – this should serve as a warning to all lesbians – especially in countries where “corrective rape” – otherwise known as ‘curative’ rape is endemic – that not even friends can be trusted when deep seated homophobia and misogynistic attitudes have taken root.

Lihle was murdered on 14 September 2014. This so called friendship did not deter the convict from extreme brutality:  She was found wrapped in a blanket and hidden behind Molefe’s bed.  Lihle’s head had been bashed against a wall, she’d been suffocated with a pillow and was wrapped in a blanket. Her body was only discovered after a smell was noticed emanating from the room. Molefe eventually turned himself in.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 1.51.16 PMJudge Mokgotsi noted that Molefe “took advantage and betrayed the trust that Lihle had for him, oblivious to the danger and risk to her life.” Yet because the Judge failed to render a life sentence, one wonders if the judicial system has secured enough understanding in its heart for the particularly egregious and horrendous nature,of these crimes, which depict extreme hate for a protected minority.

Molefe had spun a yarn to try and escape responsibility. He asserted that the sexual relationship between him and Lihle was consensual and that the murder was accidental. But the evidence clearly pointed to the fact that Molefe’s story was a lie and an attempt to evade culpability.

Prosecutor Salóme Scheepers was able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Molefe had raped Lihle and that the sex was not consensual as he had alleged. His reason for keeping her body longer than 24 hours, was found to have been an attempt to get rid of the evidence.

However although Judge Mokgotsi did rule out that this crime was a so called “corrective rape,” which is often associated with the rape of lesbian women in South Africa, it is difficult for the community to accept this ruling, other than to note there was insufficient evidence to prove it.  Although charged with premeditation, the evidence did not support it.

His previous crimes had included house break-ins, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and anal penetration in the sexual molestation of two young boys. The latter now carries a portion of a yet to served sentence.

Judge Mokgotsi also told Molefe:

“You violated her dignity and took away her right to life.”

Mokgotsi said Lihle had the right to walk the streets at any time, had the right to go out and enjoy herself, had the right to be lesbian and that society needs to respect people.  The judge also noted that the convicted criminal showed no remorse.

The state and defense have 14 days to appeal the conviction and sentence.

PLEASE READ AND SEE MORE PICS AT INKANYISO – Thank you to Inkanyiso for the photographs and coverage.

Melanie Nathan
commissionermnathan@gmail.com


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