Dance teacher gets three life sentences for rape

| Mary-Jane Matsolo
Mlulami Lawrence Gagu consulting with his lawyer. He covered his face throughout the court hearings. Photo by Mary-Jane Matsolo.

On 28 October the Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court handed spiritual dance teacher Mlulami Lawrence Gagu three life sentences for the rape of seven children over a period of two years.

Inside a packed court room, Magistrate Nonkosi Saba convicted Gagu of seven counts of rape, sexual assault, sexual grooming and exposing children to pornography. She sentenced Gagu to an additional four years to run concurrently with the three life sentences. She further instructed that Gagu’s name be added onto the National Register for Sex Offenders.

Throughout the sentencing Gagu remained covered avoiding photographs of his face. During his trial, he claimed that he was innocent and that his victims were influenced by their parents to accuse him.

Saba considered a number of factors in her judgement such as the impact this case has had on families and what the community’s expectations were. She said she found it particularly bizarre that Gagu had told the court that he was a father of two but could not verify the ages of his children. Also his mother admitted to having no knowledge of Gagu’s children or that he was ever a married man.

Saba also said it was concerning that there were no records to verify Gagu’s previous conviction in Butterworth on charges of rape where it is alleged that he served a sentence of nine years for sexual offences. No records of his stay at the Butterworth Prison could be found. The magistrate therefore said, “Adding these charges to Gagu’s sentencing would be in violation of Gagu’s human rights which are protected under the South African Constitution.”

In a report given by social workers from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) on each of the seven victims, they shared with the court how the rape had affected the children. SASSA said that some of the children had to repeat their grades at schools while other victims’ school work deteriorated. SASSA also stated that another child experienced nightmares of Gagu running after her threatening to stab her with a knife, while one parent became so paranoid over the whereabouts of her child that she relocated to the Eastern Cape. SASSA said that some husbands blamed their wives for exposing their children to the rape by allowing them to join the dance group.

Saba concluded that Gagu’s actions were carefully planned and he used the disadvantaged circumstances from which some of the children came to his benefit. She explained that Gagu showed no remorse throughout the court proceedings and emphasized that because of this there was an urgent need for Gagu to be removed from society for a long time.

The sentencing was welcomed by Social Justice Coalition members who gathered outside the court as they sang and danced outside throughout the court hearings.

Aviwe Mthibe from Sonke Gender Justice sat inside court with a protest board saying, “Gagu’s actions anger men.”

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TOPICS:  Violence

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