A man who promised a teenager he would accompany her home for her safety and then raped her in a sugar cane field was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

Mphile Bornface Mthethwa, 40, was convicted in the Empangeni Regional Court this week.

Police said on June 10, 2018, a 13-year-old girl was returning from visiting her uncle at Ezikhonkwaneni in Empangeni when she bumped into Mthethwa.

SAPS captain Nqobile Gwala said “He promised to accompany her so she would arrive home safely”.

He said “While walking, the accused turned on the victim, threatened her and instructed her to follow him into the sugar cane field, where he raped her.

“The victim screamed for help but unfortunately the field was too secluded for anyone to hear her cries. The victim ran into her home and informed her worried mother about the traumatic experience.”

Gwala said the victim’s mother reported the matter to Empangeni SAPS and the suspect was arrested the same evening.

The docket was transferred to the Empangeni Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) for further investigation.

In a separate incident, the Empangeni Regional Court sentenced Sthembiso Phumlani Zulu to 30 years for two counts of rape and 20 years for two counts of robbery. Zulu was on the run from police for two years.

In the first incident, on February 24, 2018, a 29-year-old woman in Empangeni was returning home at about 2am when she spotted Zulu hiding under the tree.

The matter was reported to the police and Zulu went on the run for two years.

Gwala said “Zulu was finally arrested on January 13 this year and was linked to another rape case, which took place on September 13, 2017, in which a 28-year-old victim was raped and robbed at knife point while returning from work”.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula praised Empangeni Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit for the good convictions.

Jula siad “We are living in tough times and it is disappointing when people who are trusted to protect women are the same people violating and abusing them.

He added that “Men of this country can do better and it’s our responsibility as society to protect women and children from any form of abuse. The sentence handed over to the two accused shows that justice will always prevail”.