Men who held British tourist for 14 hours are jailed for life

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The Independent Online

Four men who abducted a British tourist and killed a man trying to help her were sentenced to life yesterday by a judge in South African who said they acted "like a pack of dogs". Julie Stevens, from Newport, south Wales, endured a 14-hour ordeal after she was kidnapped travelling in the north of the country last year.

When the car in which they were travelling overturned in a crash, Domingo Chambal, a passer-by from Mozambique, tried to help and was shot dead. Eric Msibi, 23, Sipho Mbokane, 29, Michael Dube, 20, and Willie Ngwenya, 20, were each given life for the murder. Msibi was also sentenced to a second life term for two counts of raping Ms Stevens, 30. The other three men were found innocent of rape.

Judge Nico Coetzee told the men in Nelspruit circuit court: "You ripped pieces of their life out of them. You did not only kill an innocent man, but one who extended a helping hand to you after the accident."

Ms Stevens, who had waived her right to anonymity because she was determined to give evidence, said: "I have had to wait a year for this result. I am pleased justice has been done." She returned to Wales last weekend.

Ms Stevens had been travelling with her South African companion Thinus Opperman near the Kruger National Park when they were abducted. The four men bound and gagged them and bundled them into the back of their vehicle. Ms Stevens was raped at least twice. Once, one of the men fired a shot at Ms Stevens which narrowly missed her. They also withdrew 1,000 rand (£95) from her bank cards. After the crash, when Mr Chambal was killed, Ms Stevens and Mr Opperman managed to flee.

Yesterday, Nick Sheppard, spokesman for the British High Commission in South Africa, told Ms Stevens of the sentences during a phone call to her home in Newport. "She said the last week of the trial had been very hard on her," Mr Sheppard said.