The North West High Court sentenced Lucas Chauke, 50, a Zimbabwean national masquerading as a priest, to two life sentences after he lured unsuspecting women to a secluded spot near a dam under the false pretext for providing spiritual therapy and then raped and murdered them.
On top of that, the court also slapped Chauke with a cumulative 30 years in prison on two other counts of murder and rape.
It was also confirmed in court that he was a Zimbabwean national, residing illegally in the country.
The North West National Prosecuting Authority’s Henry Mamothame said Chauke’s serial offences took place in Temba, Hammanskraal, between October 8, 2017, and August 2018.
According to the court, the defendant, known as a priest in the area, lured a 53-year-old woman to a secluded place near a dam under the pretext of offering her spiritual assistance.
He repeatedly raped her and tied her to a tree before fleeing.
The woman managed to untie herself and ask for help, and she reported the incident to the police, who began searching for the suspect.
During the commission of his monstrous crimes, Chauke used the same method of operation.
In a separate incident on May 10, 2018, he raped a 55-year-old woman and tied her to a tree in the same secluded area next to the dam before fleeing the crime scene.
Despite her inability to free herself, her decomposed body was discovered later still attached to the tree.
On August 3, 2018, he attempted to rape another 55-year-old woman but failed. He then tied her to a tree and left her to die
Eventually, Chauke was arrested, and DNA evidence linked him to all other incidents.
State Prosecutor Benny Kalakgosi urged the court not to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence because the crimes committed were serious
He also argued that Chauke took advantage of women who trusted him as a priest, but instead he exploited them.
In accordance with the state’s position, Judge Frances Snyman described Chauke’s actions as horrific, alluding to the trust he abused in women who held him in high regard.
Dr Rachel Makhari Sekhaolelo, North West Director of Public Prosecutions congratulated the prosecutor and the investigation team from the SAPS for leading to a successful conviction in the case.
“We welcome this conviction, especially at a time when we are reflecting on the plight of women during the 16 Days of Activism. The battle against this scourge needs to be waged 365 days a year, she added.