NEW DELHI GANG RAPISTS SENTENCED TO DEATH
By: Gift Nyamapfene
On Thursday the Indian court convicted and sentenced four men to death for the rape and murder of a student in New Delhi last December.
The accused, Mukesh Sigh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta were convicted on Tuesday in the December attack of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus. The incident created an outburst over the treatment of women in India when angry protesters went on the streets.
“Justice has been delivered,” said the father of the victim, whose name was withheld under Indian law.
The victim was lured by five men and a teenager onto a bus, where they raped and attacked her with a metal bar, prosecutors told the court.
She died of her injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.
In his ruling, Judge Yogesh Khanna said that the case fell in the “rarest of rare category and warrants the exemplary punishment of death”.
The attack, “Shocked the collective conscience of India”, he said.
He rejected the accused pleas for lighter sentencing.
“In these times, when crime against women is on the rise, the courts cannot turn a blind eye toward such gruesome crimes,” said Khanna.
Besides stirring national outrage, the rape case inspired reforms of rape laws in India that the public cited were “overdue”.
The Indian Penal Code was amended to provide death penalty in rape cases that cause the death of the victim or leave her in a vegetative state.
New offences were introduced such as acid attacks, sexual harassment, use of criminal force on a woman with intent to strip her clothes off, voyeurism and stalking. The Act makes it a criminal offence if a public servant fails to provide treatment to a rape survivor.
Asked whether South Africa should adopt the same stance on rape culprits, a University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) law student, Musa Kika said, “We can punish for the transgression of the law, but we cannot kill. Where circumstances call for the sternest punishment, life sentence does the job.”
South Africa has also had aggravated rape cases similar to the one in New Delhi for example the rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp, Western Cape in February this year.