A 66-year-old man was sentenced to 15 life terms and an additional 30 years in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday for rape, abduction and sexual assault, according to the police.
Herman Harker, who the police termed a serial rapist, was sentenced for four counts of abduction and sexual assault.
He was arrested in Ladismith in June 2018, police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said.
“The investigating officer’s diligence and hard work supported by the Forensic Service Laboratory’s evidence collected at the other crime scenes and from the rape and sexual assault survivors revealed that Harker was wanted on five more cases of rape, abduction and sexual assault,” she added.
“The court heard during trial how Harker terrorised his victims who were spread among six towns – Ladismith, Stellenbosch, Wolseley, Kleinvlei and Tulbagh – between October 2017 and June 2018.”
According to Muridili, Harker lured his victims, who were aged between nine and 23, “under the pretence that he was looking for someone to walk him halfway to his destination or befriend them and give them money and then he would threaten them, at times with a weapon [a firearm and knife] before raping them repeatedly”.
She said he had raped his youngest victims, between nine and 13, while they were in school uniform on their way home.
“His reign of terror ended when the Ladismith police arrested him in June 2018.
“All the cases that was linked to Harker were then transferred to the detective services’ Serial and Electronic FCS Investigation [SECI], which is a specialised section within the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences. Detective Warrant Officer Ernest Villet was tasked with the duty of ensuring that the police sent a watertight case to court as well as preparing witnesses for the trial,” Muridili said.
The divisional commissioner of detectives, Lieutenant-General Tebello Mosikili, commended the investigating officers who conducted the initial investigation.
“The concrete foundation laid by the investigating officers enabled SECI to take forward a watertight evidence-based docket to court and that has ensured this hefty sentence imposed on this serial rapist, Harker. It is the calibre and dedication of these investigators that brings closure to the survivors of rape,” Mosikili said.