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S.Africa: Ambulance hijacked & paramedic raped in it

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  • pbs@iafrica.com
    From: WWW.AfricanCrisis.Org [The rapist is a Black man. He was sentenced to 25 ANC-years in jail which translates into... maybe 3-5 years in real world years.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2005
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      From: WWW.AfricanCrisis.Org
      [The rapist is a Black man. He was sentenced to 25 ANC-years in jail
      which translates into... maybe 3-5 years in real world years. Jan]

      A paramedic who was raped when her ambulance was hijacked last year was
      elated on Tuesday when the Pietermaritzburg High Court sentenced her
      abuser, Thamsanqa Buthelezi, 23, to life imprisonment.

      The rape was described by Judge Jan Combrink as "so inhuman and debased"
      that it was difficult to understand what had motivated the perpetrator.

      Her spontaneous but quickly suppressed cry of "yes" echoed through the
      courtroom as Combrink pronounced the sentence.

      Later, wiping tears of joy from her eyes and embracing supporters, she
      said that Buthelezi deserved to pay for his actions.
      The court heard that she still suffered from nightmares and was "not
      coping" with the trauma she had suffered.

      'Women ambulance assistants could no longer freely accompany these
      emergency journeys'

      She would undergo long-term psychological counselling but her prognosis
      for recovery was "not good".

      Her colleague, who was forced to rape her in the ambulance they crewed,
      will also continue to receive counselling. His prognosis was believed to
      be better than hers. The two are no longer on active duty but work in the
      control room.

      Buthelezi was also sentenced to 10-year jail sentences for two other
      charges relating to his "perverse and barbaric" indecent assaults on the
      two paramedics. These will run concurrently with the life term.

      He was also given 20 years for the hijacking, and 10 years for kidnapping
      the ambulance crew. Five years of the kidnapping sentence will run
      concurrently with a robbery sentence.

      Buthelezi's co-accused also received lengthy jail sentences.

      Siphesihle Khumalo, 23, was effectively jailed for 25 years for robbery
      with aggravating circumstances. Mbusiswa Zondi, 22, who played a lesser
      role, was sentenced effectively to 20 years' imprisonment.

      Zondi also received three years for unlawful possession of a firearm and
      ammunition, but this sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the
      others.

      Combrink said the actions of the accused in deliberately hijacking an
      ambulance had far-reaching consequences for the entire health service.

      They had impacted on the rights of the sick and those requiring emergency
      treatment, and had "cast a shadow" over ambulance personnel who worked
      through the night to be available for emergencies.

      "The ambulance services had to be reorganised in such a way that hot
      spots are identified to which (ambulances) can only go with police
      escorts," he said.

      "Women ambulance assistants could no longer freely accompany these
      emergency journeys."

      State advocate Gert Nel said the replacement cost of the ambulance -
      borne by the department of health and the taxpayer - had been R260 000.
      Anti-hijack tracking systems had subsequently been fitted to the
      department's entire fleet at huge cost.

      The need for a police escort to a secluded area often meant an ambulance
      had to "wait for hours" before an escort became available.

      Combrink said it appeared that the accused had not gained a great deal
      financially from the hijacking.

      The provincial health department welcomed the sentences and said it hoped
      this would send a strong message that the hijacking of ambulances would
      be met with the full might of the law.

      "We believe the sentence will go a long way in assuring our employees
      that crimes committed against them are taken seriously," said
      spokesperson Lindiwe Khuzwayo.

      This article was originally published on page 3 of The Mercury on May 04,
      2005

      Source: Independent Online (IOL)
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