Serial Rapist Sentenced to Nine Life Terms Plus 158 Years

The High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division, Mthatha, sentenced Xolani Gcelu (34) to nine life imprisonment terms and additional 158 years for his four-year reign of raping, kidnapping, robbery and attempted murder of young women between the ages of 17 and 26 years at the neighbouring villages of Sidwadweni and Zandukwana near the district of Tsolo. The court sentenced Gcelu to life for each of the nine counts of rape, and sentences ranging between two years and 15 years for multiple charges of housebreaking with intent to commit an offence, kidnapping, common robbery, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, as well as compelled sexual assault. The court ordered the culminative 158 years to run concurrently with the nine life terms.

Between March 2016 and June 2019, Gcelu targeted the young women who were either walking on their own at night or sleeping on their own and raped them, while fully aware that he had contracted HIV. His modus operandi was to threaten the women with a knife and take them to secluded areas or unfinished building structures where he would rape and rob them of their belongings, including cell phones and cash. He was linked to all the rape charges through DNA, as all the victims immediately reported their attacks and were thus, timely referred for medical attention.

Gcelu was arrested after he attacked two women. While threatening them with a knife, he raped them while forcing them to perform sexual acts on one another. Even though they did not know Gcelu, they managed to describe him to their older brothers who traced and handed him to the police. During trial, he challenged the procedure followed when buccal samples were collected from him DNA comparison. He further claimed that he was in romantic relationships with six of the victims and had bought liquor for others in exchange for sex. Under cross examination by the State Advocate, Loyiso Methuso, Gcelu contradicted himself. Advocate Methuso had earlier led the evidence of the victims, some of whom were assisted by the Court Preparation Officer (CPO), Nonkululeko Mcimbi. The Judge, Buyiswa Majiki found Gcelu to be an untruthful witness, and agreed that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances for deviating from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment terms for the rapes.

The Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Barry Madolo commended the Investigating Officer, CPO and the prosecutor for the meticulous collection and presentation of evidence, noting that the sentence reaffirms the NPA’s commitment to the protection of women.

Kind regards,


Luxolo Tyali

NPA Regional Spokesperson

Eastern Cape Division

Tel: 0475012630

Cell: 0735559292


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