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Two life term imprisonment for liSwati ‘Facebook rapist’

Mxolisi Mthombothi (27) during his sentencing at the Mbombela High Court on Tuesday.

By Nokunceda Magagula

MCOLISI Mthombothi, a 27-year-old man from Eswatini, has been sentenced to two life terms plus an additional 124 years for rape in Mpumalanga High Court. According to South African media reports, in a harrowing case that has sent shockwaves through the community, Mthombothi has finally been sentenced for a series of heinous crimes that unfolded between April 2020 and August 2021.

This ‘Facebook serial rapist’ left a trail of fear and devastation in Matsulu and Kaapmuiden, as he preyed on unsuspecting victims he met through social media. The chilling chronology of events reveals a pattern of deceit and violence. Mthombothi is said to have been operating under false identities and fictitious Facebook profiles, would connect with women, initiating romantic relationships and occasionally promising them jobs.

He would then manipulate them into meeting in person, where he would drag them into nearby bushes, committing horrifying acts of sexual assault and theft. His reign of terror came to an end in September 2022 when a vigilant woman, nearly becoming his next victim, led the police to Mthombothi. An identification parade and DNA evidence conclusively linked him to the crimes.

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In a shocking revelation during his court appearance, Mthombothi claimed that his descent into crime was fueled by desperation. He cited being homeless and unable to afford rent as the catalyst for his criminal activities. He would often force his victims to call their family members, demanding money to be deposited into his account, adding further trauma to their already horrifying experiences.

Judge Kgama Shai, in a stern verdict, effectively sentenced Mthombothi to life imprisonment, with additional penalties for robbery, extortion, and assault. The court also declared him unfit to possess a firearm and ordered his name to be entered into the National Register for Sexual Offenders. The National Prosecuting Authority welcomed the sentence as a powerful message against such heinous crimes and issued a warning to the public.

This case serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking behind the screens of social media platforms. It underscores the importance of caution and vigilance when interacting with strangers online, especially when considering in-person meetings. Commenting regarding Mthombothi’s sentencing, the Eswatini Government Spokesperson Alpheos Nxumalo said that they couldn’t express an opinion on this matter but expressed hope that Mthombothi was adequately informed about his rights concerning extradition treaties.

If this is the case, there could be a possibility for Mthombothi to serve his sentences in his home country, Eswatini. The sentencing of Mcolisi Mthombothi represents a significant victory for justice, as the community can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that this “Facebook serial rapist” will no longer pose a threat to innocent lives.

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