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Jul 19 2012 5:17PM
Men get eight life sentences plus 60 years for raping paramedics
Men get eight life sentences plus 60 years for raping paramedics. Gallo images
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Dudu Dube

The harshest ever sentence in a single rape case was today imposed against two men who raped two on-duty female paramedics in Roodepoort two years ago.

Judge Sharise Erica Weiner sentenced Richard Luruli 30, and Michael Khorombi 28, to 60 years imprisonment and eight life sentences for repeatedly raping the two paramedics who had gone to Durban Deep informal settlement to attend to a burnt child in 2010.

The two men also assaulted and forced a man who was passing by to also rape the two women.

As she passed sentence, members of the South African Municipal Workers Union who filled the court ululated and clapped in joy.

Among them was Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini who said he hoped this sentence would send a strong message to 'scoundrels' who keep attacking civil servants.

"These offenses cross the boundary of humanity. The psychological trauma and loss of dignity these victims suffered have left them with deep wounds," she said.

"They had no regard for the innocent child who had been burnt and was seeking help of the paramedics," said the judge.

Judge Weiner, spoke fiercely about how the rape had affected the country as a whole and has many civil servants fearing for their lives.

"Now, because of the accused, paramedics are not safe to go to communities alone and help people. They are now obliged to call for police escort," she said.

The judge also lashed out at Luruli and Khorombi for showing no remorse for their actions.

"They denied their involvement despite a pile of evidence against them. They have never once asked for forgiveness from their victims," said the judge before pronouncing the sentence.

Luruli and Khorombi will serve an effective 35 years as the numeric years run concurrently before starting to serve the eight life sentences.

Earlier, just after they had been found guilty on 14 charges, their lawyer Advocate Mohale Lebea pleaded with the judge not to punish them extensively.

He explored all possible angles, including that the women suffered no physical injuries when they were raped, to try and convince the judge and the fully packed court that they deserved some mercy.

"I'm asking this court to treat all these crimes as one transaction so as to avoid duplication of punishment. I ask that all sentences for these crimes run concurrently," said Lebea.

Lebea's counted among other things the fact that Luruli and Khorombi were fathers who were breadwinners for their families and that they had come to Johannesburg from Venda in Limpopo to look for jobs but were embroiled in crime because of poverty.

But those submissions were shot down by the state.

They were found guilty on eight counts of rape, two counts of compelled sexual assault, one count of robbery each and unlawful possession on firearm.

In March 2010, the two female paramedics, who cannot be named because of the nature of the crime, were called to attend to a burnt toddler in Durban Deep informal settlement in Roodepoort. The burnt toddler was brought to the ambulance by her mother, who later had to go back to her shack to get clean clothes for the child.

That was when Luruli and Khorombi came to the ambulance, pointed a gun at them and demanded their cellphones and money. The two men then ordered them out of the vehicle and pulled them to a nearby open veld.

Both women told the court during the trial that the accused kept saying: "You think you are better, today you will be raped by illiterate hobos".

A man who passed by the rape scene was also beaten by the accused and forced to rape the two women.

Both Luruli and Khorombi have previous convictions for which they have already served sentences for.

Luruli was convicted for robbery and assault in 2007 to which he was sentenced to 12 months.

Khorombi was convicted for housebreaking in 2004, assault also in the same year and another assault in 2008.

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