Maun Magistrates court has slapped a man convicted for two counts of rape to twenty years in prison.
When passing sentence this week, Chief Magistrate Thebeetsile Mulalo, noted that there were no extenuating circumstances in the matter but aggravating factors instead.
“The accused‘s HIV status and that he was aware of it serves as an aggravating factor. He did not care to use protection when molesting the victims even though he was aware of his condition,” said Mulalo.
According to Mulalo, the 37-year-old Philip Gabriel put the victims at risk of contracting HIV and for that reason his actions cannot be condoned.
“The accused’s conduct undermines the government efforts to combat the HIV pandemic. Offenses of this sexual nature are also highly prevalent in our jurisdiction and therefore offenders need to be taught a lesson,” added Mulalo.
The prosecution had previously filed a report which confirmed that Philip Gabriel had been living with the same HIV status since 19 December 2019.
Maun Magistrates court had previously learnt in January that the then 17-year-old rape victim attempted to end her life by ingesting paraffin once she learnt about the HIV status of her assailant.
It is alleged that Gabriel dragged the minor from their home to his house on December 26, 2020 where he is said to have threatened to burn her vagina with a hot laundry iron should she refuse to sleep with him.
The court also heard that he raped her at knife point and instructed her to take a hot bath after the ordeal.
In his evidence in chief the Investigating officer, Andrew Thoki Koitsiwe, revealed that the rape incident was never reported until the victim landed in hospital after drinking paraffin.
“The victim and her sister moved from Sedie to Thito ward because they feared you, they were scared to even report you as you threatened them. Someone told her that you are on ARV treatment and she tried to kill herself because she felt that her life was over,” revealed Thoki under cross-examination by the accused.
According to Thoki, Gabriel had on the fateful day gone to the girl’s house looking for her father.
When he learnt that he was away in Boro he took advantage of the situation and raped the teenager.
On the second count, Gabriel is said to have dragged a Zimbabwean woman from her boyfriend and raped her in a secluded spot along the way, just a few days after the first incident.
“The victim did not know you but her boyfriend knew you very well. You did not dispute the scene of crime which she showed us after you purposely led us to a wrong scene,” said Koitsiwe.
After his arrest, Gabriel is said to have escaped from the police cells at around 12 midnight on 4 January, 2021 by destroying the cell padlock.
He has since been charged with unlawful escape from police custody for the offence.
In mitigation the accused pleaded with the court to consolidate his sentences as he has been cooperating with the police.
“When the court sentences me it should take into consideration that I left a four month old baby and the mother. I do not know where they are. The court should note that I have been obedient,” he said, further pleading for his sentences to run concurrently.
The 20-year jail sentence will take into account a period of two years, six months and four days that he has spent in custody awaiting finalization of the matter.