In South Africa, a Cape Town taxi driver and his assistant will spend the rest of their lives behind bars for raping a pupil.

The Parow sexual offences court has handed Giovanni Florence and Jerome van Wyk life sentences for the 2018 incident.

Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape, said the 17-year-old pupil had attended an extra class on March 8 2018 at her school in the Kraaifontein area.

“Arrangements were made that a teacher from her school would give her a lift home to Delft. Unfortunately, the teacher’s vehicle broke down on the way home. The teacher assisted her to get into a taxi which Florence was driving and Van Wyk was a guard,” said Ntabazalila.

“Specialist sexual offences prosecutor advocate Dercia Rabie told the court Florence did not stop at the place where she was supposed to be dropped off and drove to a deserted place where both of them raped her. The two 27-year-old men were arrested within days and were convicted on a charge of rape.”

During the trial, Rabie emphasised that the pupil was “dependent on public transport to get to school and back home. The accused acted opportunistically and took advantage of the pupil when she was alone in the taxi with them.”

“South Africa is in a pandemic in respect of gender-based violence. As a result of this attack, the pupil has suffered immense trauma,” Rabie argued.

“The fact that she successfully completed her matric was not to the benefit of the accused. She showed strength irrespective of the fact that it was difficult to concentrate at school. She became afraid to travel to school and back home. She indicated in her victim impact statement that she was afraid of men because of the incident.”

Rabie persuaded the court not to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence based on the “flimsy reasons provided by the defence”.

The two men were sentenced on Thursday.

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