The Gauteng Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, commended detectives for their success in securing long prison sentences for serious crimes related to child protection. Between April 7 and May 18, 2023, detectives from various stations and provincial units obtained more than 10 life imprisonment terms, totaling over 1000 years in prison. The sentences were handed down to approximately 90 accused individuals involved in nearly 85 separate cases. The charges included murder, rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, and possession of child pornography.
32-Year-Old Offender Receives Two Life Imprisonment Terms and Additional Sentence
One case involved a 32-year-old offender who received two life imprisonment terms and an additional 30 years and six months in prison. The accused faced eight counts related to rape, human trafficking in persons (child), sexual assault, and common assault. In November 2018, the perpetrator attacked and raped two teenage girls, aged 14 and 16. SAPS Pretoria North officers, who were on patrol that night, noticed the suspicious man driving with the two teenage girls, leading to his arrest.
Constable Gomoleo Maledu of Ga-Rankuwa Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit took over the investigation. Constable Maledu’s meticulous evidence collection and statement gathering led to a robust case against the accused in court.
10-Year Imprisonment for Possession of Child Pornography
In another unrelated case, the Pretoria Regional Court sentenced a 38-year-old individual to 10 years imprisonment for possession of child pornography. In November 2018, SAPS Gauteng’s Serial and Electronic Crime Investigation (SECI) unit received information from Homeland Security (US Embassy) about an IP address linked to child abuse images. The late Warrant Officer Delene Grobler-Koonin was assigned to the case and quickly began her investigation. Through skillful investigative techniques, she traced the suspect to an address in Hercules and recovered various electronic devices.
Grobler-Koonin’s investigation led to the identification of over 2000 child abuse images on these devices, with victims ranging in age from 4 months to 12 or 13 years old. Numerous child victims linked to this case remain unidentified and their locations unknown. The case was later reassigned to Warrant Officer Johan Boshoff after Grobler-Koonin’s promotion to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI). Unfortunately, Grobler-Koonin was killed in the line of duty while working at DPCI in 2021, but her commitment to protecting women and children led to the eventual justice in this case.
Two Life Imprisonment Terms and Additional Sentence
On May 15, 2023, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg sentenced Wilson Lawrence Rihlamfu, age 37, to two life imprisonment terms and an additional 20 years in prison. Rihlamfu was charged with murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and arson. Sergeant Mathenjwa, a detective attached to the provincial Serious and Violent Crime Investigation’s (SVCI) Murder and Robbery unit, led the case. His diligent work ensured a watertight case against the accused in court.
Provincial Commissioner of Police in Gauteng, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, applauded all detectives involved in these cases for their dedication, thoroughness, and passion. As Child Protection Week (May 29 to June 5) approaches, Mawela believes that the detectives’ tireless efforts will help restore the community’s faith in the South African Police Service.