A serial rapist who went on a 10-year rampage in Mpumalanga has been sentenced to eight life terms behind bars plus 553 years.
Samson "Oneman" Masombuka was jailed after he was found guilty of 70 charges, including rape, robbery and kidnapping.
Imposing the sentences in the Mpumalanga High Court in Delmas on Thursday, Judge Neliswa Mali called Masombuka heartless.
Mali emphasised that women were not safe when people such as Masombuka were out in the streets, police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said in a statement.
"She concluded that the community will be free after he is removed from society."
According to police, Masombuka's crime spree took place from 2008 to 2018 in several parts of the province, including, Kwaggafontein, Siyabuswa, Dennilton and surrounding areas.
"The court heard how Masombuka [terrorised] vulnerable women, aged between 16 and 40 at that time, in their homes," Hlathi said.
"The vicious Masombuka, who was mostly armed with a firearm, would attack his victims on the streets, robbed them of their belongings, including cellphones, and often kidnapped them."
"This man who acted like a predator, would at times break into the homes of his victims whilst they were asleep. He would then threaten these victims with a firearm and take their belongings before raping them."
Masombuka was arrested after he was linked to the crimes via DNA.
"The police investigation team worked very hard to close the net of this maniac."
"Detectives knitted their case to be watertight so that there is no loophole left for Masombuka. The evidence before court was so overwhelming and led to Masombuka being found guilty of the charges levelled against him."
Mpumalanga police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma welcomed the sentence imposed and thanked the investigation team for their work.
"Words cannot really express my appreciation to the outstanding work done by the investigation team which led to the subsequent conviction and sentencing of the accused," Zuma said.
"This is an indication that [the police are] determined and committed to decisively deal with those rotten elements that commit gender-based violence. I believe that the sentence will serve as a deterrent to would-be rapists."
"The sentencing of this perpetrator of rape crimes has once again proven that the FCS Unit, as one of the structures that has been put in place to address gender-based violence, is making strides in... ensuring that women in our society are and feel safe."