Tears rolled down his face the minute he was locked up in the police cells. This time he knew it was for life.
No more would Shepherd Moyo be allowed to terrorise northern Joburg residents. On Wednesday, the Lonehill and Paulshof robber and rapist was sentenced by the Johannesburg High Court to multiple life terms.
Investigating officer Tony Rakoma had a triumphant smile on his face. His job was finally done. None of the witnesses who testified came to court for the sentencing, but Rakoma had sent them text messages about the verdict.
“They were all so happy and relieved. They finally got their closure and can now move on with their lives. It was a job well done,” he said.
Moyo, who was nicknamed “Axeman”, would rob his victims in the early hours – usually between 2am and 4am. After ransacking their houses, he would have some water and would either lock the occupants in their bathrooms or bedrooms.
In some instances, he would rape the victims. Most of the items he would take from the homes were valued at thousands of rand. His crime spree dates back to 2004, with incidents also in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
“The worst in my view is that he attacked and raped the victims in the sanctity of their own homes where they thought they were safe,” said Judge Mathilda Masipa in sentencing him.
She was especially aggrieved by the fact that Moyo would not only force himself on them, but would also strip them of their dignity and ensure the rapes were not traced back to him.
In one of the rapes, he used a condom and flushed it down the toilet. In another, he ejaculated on the carpet and wiped himself with a towel, which he got rid of.
Judge Masipa said his three rape victims never recovered from the trauma and became emotional wrecks. She firmly believed all the offences were carefully planned and executed. The judge said it was inconceivable that someone who was working alone would pick the victims out at random, and she was convinced he had studied the potential victims.
Moyo would always take his time during the robberies and never hurry, as if he knew no one would come to the rescue of the victims.
“His brazen conduct sent a chilly message to residents that no degree of security would deter criminals,” said Judge Masipa.
The 63-year-old man he repeatedly stabbed during a robbery now lives as a prisoner in his own home.
“What weighs with me very heavily is that the accused showed no remorse, therefore it is difficult to imagine he can be rehabilitated.”
The judge said it was clear from the evidence that Moyo was a detriment to society.
Last week, she found him guilty on 11 counts of housebreaking and robbery, three of rape and one of attempted murder. Six robbery charges were withdrawn as witnesses could not be traced. On Wednesday, Moyo got 15 years for each of the 11 counts of robbery, 12 years for attempted murder, and life sentences for all three rape charges – a total of 252 years.
The attempted murder and robbery sentences will run concurrently with the three life sentences. “The effective sentence therefore is life imprisonment,” the judge said.