A 50-year-old Zimbabwean priest who used his position of trust to lure women to secluded spots where he raped them and then tied them to a tree has been removed from society.
The North West High Court sentenced Lucas Chauke to two life terms for murder and rape on Tuesday.
Chauke was also sentenced to 30 years in prison on two additional counts of murder and rape, according to NPA provincial spokesperson Henry Mamothame.
He stated that the accused was confirmed to be a Zimbabwean national living illegally in South Africa.
Chauke, a well-known priest, preyed on three victims between 2017 and 2018.
In the first incident in 2017, Chauke took a 53-year-old woman to a secluded place near a dam, on the pretence of assisting her with her spirituality.
“When they arrived at the place, Chauke repeatedly raped the woman and then tied her to a tree before fleeing,” he said.
Mamothame said the victim managed to untie herself and ran for help. Chauke received a life sentence for this incident.
On May 10, 2018, Chauke took a 55-year-old woman to the same secluded location and raped her. He then fled the scene.
“However, the woman was unable to free herself and her decomposed body was later discovered still tied to the tree.
“He was sentenced to life for murder and a further 15 years for rape,” said Mamothame.
On August 3, 2018, Chauke took a 55-year-old woman to the same location and attempted to rape her, "but seemingly failed."
"He then tied her to a tree and abandoned her to die," he explained.
Chauke received a 15-year prison sentence for murder.
“Chauke was eventually arrested, and he was linked through DNA specimens to all other incidents,” Mamothame said.
Judge Frances Snyman described Chauke's actions as horrific and alluded to the trust that he abused towards women who held him in high regard when sentencing him.
Dr Rachel Makhari Sekhaolelo, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West, welcomed the conviction.
"Especially as we reflect on the plight of women during the 16 Days of Activism."
"To be victorious against this scourge, this fight must be activated 365 days a year," she said.
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