Three men have been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for gang raping a 16-year-old girl in 1àq a small farming town in Mpumalanga, South Africa five years ago.

The victim was gang-raped inside a vehicle belonging to one of the accused men.

Mpumalanga provincial police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, in a statement on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, said the victim was gang-raped inside a vehicle belonging to one of the accused men at a tavern in the town of Morgenzon.

“It was heard in court that the trio, Sikhumbuzo Jacob Hlophe, 38, Thokozani David Hlophe, 28, and Thokozane Obert Zwane, 30 raped the victim in December 2018,” Mohlala said.

“The incident was reported to the police and the case was assigned to Standerton family violence, child protection and sexual offences (FCS) unit where investigators worked tirelessly and conducted an intense investigation.”

Mohlala said the law enforcement team made a breakthrough when they arrested the three suspects the day after the rape ordeal.

“The three were found guilty and sentenced to 18 years of direct imprisonment each by the Secunda Regional Court on Monday, December 4,” he said.

Meanwhile, provincial commissioner of police in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has welcomed the sentence, and commended the investigating team’s quick response “as well as the exceptional investigation” which culminated in the sentence.

“The sentence came at the time when the world has embarked on 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children,” said Manamela.

“The sentence should serve as a deterrent and lesson for community members to refrain from any form of abuse,” he added.