Thapelo Lekabe

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist


Tsakane graveyard serial rapist handed three life terms

Petetona Abel Lebele's name has been included in the National Register for Sexual Offenders.


Tsakane graveyard serial rapist Petetona Abel Lebele was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday by the Pretoria High Court sitting in Benoni.

Lebele, 43, received three life terms and 30 years of direct imprisonment.

Rape and kidnapping

This after he was found guilty of four counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping against four females, aged 7, 13, 16, and 32. The offences were committed over a period of three years, from January 2017 to August 2019, when he was arrested.

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National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana confirmed that the court ordered the inclusion of Lebele’s name in the National Register for Sexual Offenders.

“His first and youngest victim was a 7-year-old minor.  On 19 January 2017, when the minor was on her way to school, she met with Lebele, he called her and told her to come to collect sweets. 

“The minor refused and started running, however, Lebele caught up with her and dragged her to the cemetery where he raped her,” said Mahanjana in a statement.

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Mahanjana said on 19 August 2019, Lebele raped a 32-year-old woman who was carrying her two-year-old child on her back. He pushed the child to the ground and proceeded to rape the mother.

“In court, he pleaded guilty to the charges. In his guilty plea, he told the court that he targeted his victims when they were on their way to school or home.

“He also told the court that he would grab and drag them to the Tsakane Cemetery where he raped them.”

Sentencing

During the sentencing, state prosecutor Advocate Lawrence Sivhidzho emphasised the emotional and physical trauma that the rape victims endured. Sivhidzho pointed out that Lebele deliberately targeted vulnerable young children and committed the heinous acts at a cemetery, a sacred place where loved ones are laid to rest.

He urged the court to impose a severe sentence that would serve as a deterrent to others.

“Judge Portia Phahlane agrees with the statement that Lebele targeted defenceless victims, and that rape was less about sex but about power and entitlement to women’s bodies. 

“Therefore, it was the duty of the court to send a clear message that such offences would not be tolerated.”

After receiving his life sentence, Lebele applied for leave to appeal the decision, but the state opposed the appeal and the court denied his application.

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