On Thursday, August 3, 2023, a disturbing and tragic case came to light at the Ga-Rankuwa Regional Court in South Africa. Johannes Jojo Shabangu, a 35-year-old man, stood trial for a series of heinous crimes that included 14 charges of rape and 11 charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances. The trial was taking place at the High Court of South Africa, North West Division.
During the court proceedings, Shabangu shocked everyone by pleading guilty to all 14 rape charges and 11 robbery charges. Judge Andre Peterson, after receiving the guilty plea statement, found the accused guilty on all counts in accordance with his plea. The court was on recess when the unexpected incident occurred. Johannes Jojo Shabangu collapsed and fell ill in a holding cell.
Paramedics were called to attend to Shabangu, but tragically, he was declared dead on the scene. A death certificate was presented to Judge Peterson, who then concluded the proceedings. The judge ordered for the death certificate to be filed with the registrar of the High Court of South Africa, North West Division. Additionally, an inquest docket was ordered to be registered to investigate the cause of Shabangu’s sudden death.
The case against Shabangu originated from a series of horrifying incidents that took place in Winterveldt, in the Odi district, between July 2012 and December 2019. During this period, he and his unknown accomplices perpetrated multiple rapes and robberies against women. The evidence presented in the indictment revealed a pattern where Shabangu and his cohorts would confront couples returning from leisure activities at night. They would use firearms to threaten and beat up the boyfriends, rob them, and then take turns raping the female victims. They also broke into homes using the same modus operandi and sometimes accosted groups of women, robbing them before selecting one victim to rape. Shockingly, their youngest victim was only 14 years old, and her harrowing ordeal took place in June 2015.
During his guilty plea statement, read by his attorney, Shabangu accepted full responsibility for all the charges against him and expressed remorse for his actions, seeking forgiveness from his victims.
Amid the tragic passing of the accused before sentencing, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West, Dr. Rachel Makhari, and the Provincial Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Sello Kwena, commended the collaborative efforts of Adv Nangomso Goloda and Sergeant Molwantoa Rapakgadi in ensuring a successful conviction in this case.
The incident sheds light on the horrors faced by the victims and the urgency of addressing violence against women in South Africa. The investigation into the cause of Shabangu’s death will remain crucial in providing closure to the victims and their families and ensuring justice is served.