The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has welcomed the 75-year sentence handed to Thabang Clement Ntsau at the High Court sitting in Harrismith.
The 40-year-old is said to have been terrorising the communities of Namahadi, Tseki, Makwane and Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State for a period of 10 years between 2007 and 2017.
He was arrested by the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation in 2019.
Ntsau faced 11 charges including burglary, robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The CGE believes Ntsau's sentencing must be a turning point in how gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) and other related cases are treated by the judicial system.
"The commission is particularly pleased that the judgment resonates with what President Cyril Ramaphosa called for during the State of the Nation Address, and subsequently when he addressed the nation on 5 September 2019, whilst responding to the GBV memorandum by activists and civil society organisations.
"President Ramaphosa called for harsher punishment of perpetrators of GBVF," said the chairperson of the commission, Tamara Mathebula.
The National Head for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, has welcomed Ntsau's conviction.
"The combined 121 years imprisonment, which is to run concurrently, demonstrates the seriousness with which the justice system views these crimes. While this certified criminal is to serve a total of 75 years direct imprisonment, this should also serve as a deterrent to those who hurt, instil fear and abuse women and children," said Lebeya.
Dumisani Mkhwanazi's guilty verdict
Meanwhile, the CGE has applauded the justice system for finding Dumisani Mkhwanazi guilty of murdering University of Johannesburg student, Palesa Madiba.
Madiba was last seen at her friend's place in Soweto in 2013, and her bones were found buried in a shallow grave at the same house in 2015.
Her friend's uncle, Mkhwanazi, was arrested and charged with murder, defeating the ends of justice, possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, and stealing Madiba's cell phone.
The CGE said it was pleased that Mkhwanazi, who tried to evade the police, will finally serve his sentence, even though it took seven years to arrive at this point.
Mathebula believes that the judgment will help Madiba's family to find closure, as they deal with the lifelong trauma of losing a loved one in a brutal manner.
"Of great importance is that the sentencing of Ntsau and the guilty verdict handed to Mkhwanazi happen when the country and the entire globe are observing 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children," said the commission.
The commission hopes that the sentences will send a strong and unequivocal message that the judicial system is taking the fight against gender-based violence seriously.
"The commission also extends its heartfelt appreciation to the investigators of the two cases, without whom we will not be talking about the sentencing of Ntsau and the guilty verdict against Mkwanazi."
The CGE once again implored South Africans to join hands in the 365 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.
"As 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign continues, the Gender Commission - through community outreach and public information activities - continues to engage both boys and men about their role and responsibilities in ending Gender-Based Violence and Femicide."
The commission hopes that through these campaigns, boys and men will unlearn harmful behaviours and become citizens who respect human rights, and understand that women's rights are human rights.