The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the life sentence imposed on the rapist and attacker of Free State farmer and DA councillor, Alison Oates, in the Harrismith Regional Court today.
Magistrate van Niekerk sentenced Themba ‘Steen’ Makhubo to life imprisonment for the rape of Oates and a further 15 years for armed robbery with aggravating circumstances.
During sentencing Magistrate van Niekerk noted that serious crime in South Africa is on the increase and that it is clear that these offenses are premeditated in nature. He further stated that sentences must take into account the nature of the crime and must serve to deter prospective criminals and that the police have limited resources and are therefore unable to ensure the safety of those living on farms, “that is why farms and those living on farms are seen as soft targets”.
Magistrate van Niekerk took into account the emotional impact that the crime had on Oates, the fact that Makhubo showed no remorse for his vile actions, and the rise in crimes against women and children.
Alison Oates had to wait 5 long years to see justice served, and we are grateful for the intervention of the Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Rodney de Kock and his staff, as well as the prosecutor, Adv Campher, for their efforts in finalizing the matter with a sentence that will certainly send out a strong message.
In the years since her attack Oates had to live in close proximity to her rapist and endure multiple setbacks in bringing it to court – from constant delays and lack of progress and information regarding the investigation to regular postponements and delays in court proceedings.
It is for this very reason that the DA established our Court Watching Briefs Units to ensure that regular feedback regarding investigations of farm attacks and farm murders, as well as the court proceedings are given. It also serves the purpose of ensuring that investigations are done thoroughly and that cases get prosecuted.
Oates also had the extra stress yesterday when Makhubo went missing during one of the breaks. As if the years of living close to her attacker, a man who has a history of criminality, was not enough, there was the extra worry that he would not face justice at all.
It is worrying that an alarming amount of accused with histories of violent crime are granted bail and often reoffend while awaiting trial. Judges, Magistrates and prosecutors must take an accused’s criminal history into serious account during applications for bail, so that Oates’ violent and tragic history does not repeat itself with other victims.
If you are in a position to help fund our Court Watching Briefs Unit which closely monitors every farm attack court case to ensure attackers end up behind bars, please make a donation here.