“You are dangerous, a menace to society, and the community has indicated that they will kill you should you return”
NORTHERN Cape High Court Judge Cecile Williams was scathing when she yesterday sentenced Jacob Esel to two life terms for the rape and murder of Gotlamang Lizzah Moatlhodi.
Esel will serve an additional 12 years for the attempted rape of an elderly family member and five years for the violation of Moathlodi’s corpse.
Esel, from Barkly West, attempted to rape an elderly family member on February 27 2018. He was carrying a knife at the time of the incident and injured her shoulder in his attempt to have intercourse with her.
The next day, Esel went to the home of Moatlhodi looking for home-brewed beer. When she indicated that she didn’t have any beer, he suggested to his friend, Phumelo, that they rape her. Phumelo left and Esel held a knife to Moatlhodi and raped her.
While she was screaming during the act, Esel stabbed her repeatedly. After he had finished raping her, he strangled her to ensure that she was dead. He then, in an attempt to “conceal the evidence”, sliced Moatlhodi open, removed her intestines and mutilated her genitals.
“You are dangerous, a menace to society, and the community has indicated that they will kill you should you return,” Judge Williams said while handing down her sentence.
She also indicated that Esel was not a first offender and not a candidate for rehabilitation. “Your life of crime started in 2006 and included two convictions for house-breaking, three for theft, one for robbery, four for malicious damage to property, one for possession of a dangerous weapon and one for attempted murder.”
Williams said that Esel was now 28 years old and 27 at the time of committing the offences. He left school in Grade 7 as a result of an addiction to drugs – dagga and mandrax – and was still addicted.
Esel is unmarried and has no children.
Williams went on to say that Esel’s defence attorney, Heinrich Steynberg, indicated that his crimes of house-breaking and theft were to fuel his drug habit. “Steynberg also stated that Esel did not receive any treatment for this drug addiction. He also claimed Esel provided his full co-operation with police immediately after he was arrested by voluntarily attempting to point out Moatlhodi’s bloodied clothes.
“He pleaded guilty and took the court into his confidence, which he claimed was a sign of remorse.”
She further stated that Stenyberg said that there were programmes in prison which Esel could use to rehabilitate himself.
“He was given opportunity after opportunity to rehabilitate himself while he was in custody for his previous offences and integrate himself into the community again. Your co-operation with the police is not a sign of remorse or that you will be rehabilitated.”
Williams went to say that on count one (attempted rape) Esel’s elderly family member opened the door for him when he came knocking in the early hours of the morning. “He knew full well who she was. He even told Phumelo about the incident.”
On counts two, three and four (rape, murder and violation of a corpse) Williams said Phumelo was present. “Moatlhodi’s 11-year-old daughter saw the two of you enter the property as she was on her way out to buy electricity at the shop. She knew the nicknames of the accused. She found her mother dead, lying in a pool of blood.”
Williams further went on to say that Esel had a propensity to violence. “He was sentenced to an effective four years for attempted murder. This did not bring about rehabilitation. Then in 2014 he was found guilty of possession of a dangerous weapon. In 2010 to 2014 he was found guilty of malicious damage to property. This indicates that elements of violence were present.”
Williams said that she agreed with the State prosecutor, advocate Jacques Rosenberg, that Esel was not a candidate for rehabilitation.
“The criminal justice system has treated him very lightly over the years, giving him opportunity after opportunity to rehabilitate himself. There is no reason why I can accept his word that he will rehabilitate himself. His crimes are heinous. He attacked his 69-year-old relative in her own home. He pinned her down on the bed with a knife. He cut off her underwear. This just shows that he has no respect.
“This woman lives in fear, she is embarrassed and humiliated. Everyone in the community knows that he wanted to rape her.”
Williams went on to say that according to the probation officer’s report, the woman doesn’t feel safe and that she indicated that she wants Esel to get a long sentence.
“He has shown an utter lack of remorse for what he did, as hours later he raped and killed another woman.
“I can just imagine how the deceased must have suffered – receiving 44 stab wounds to her forehead, face and upper body before she was strangled. The wounds on her hands indicate defensive wounds. It is impossible to think of the pain she suffered. After her death he didn’t stop there, he stabbed her three more times – once in the genital area, once in the hip and then the abdomen and removed her intestines, all to remove any DNA evidence.
“We already live in a violent country and it is difficult to find something more violent than what the accused inflicted on the deceased.”
Williams said, according to the probation officer’s report, that Moatlhodi’s 11 year-old daughter was the one who found her. “She was the deceased’s youngest child. The young girl is now traumatised. She is finding it difficult to sleep and concentrate at school. She has moved in with her grandmother but she is finding it hard to adapt to her new circumstances. She has also indicated that she hates him and will never forgive him.
“The community also doesn’t want to see the accused again and they have said that if they find him roaming the streets they will kill him. You are dangerous and a menace to society. I therefore sentence you to 12 years for attempted rape, life for rape, life for murder and five years for violating a corpse,” Williams concluded.