A 29-year-old security guard who raped and murdered a two-year-old girl in Sandton, Johannesburg was handed two life sentences on Thursday.

Thokozani Mthiyane, 29, was found guilty of rape and murder in the Johannesburg High Court, before being sentenced.

Mthiyane was also convicted on charges of causing a child to witness a sexual offence and defeating the ends of justice for which he received sentences of five and three years sentences respectively. The charges would run concurrently with the life sentence.

“Rape is a despicable crime. The accused was vulnerable and helpless,” said Judge Maletsatsi Mahalelo

Mahalelo added that children were usually raped and abused by people they trusted.

The incident occurred when the toddler’s mother left the little girl in the care of a 14 year-old. Mthiyane, a security guard at the complex in Morningside, Sandton, then made his way into their home where he raped and murdered the child in front of the teenager. He threatened the teenager and told her to say the child died because she had fallen off the bed or he would kill her too.

The girl later confessed to her grandmother after being told there was no evidence of the baby falling.

A postmortem report indicated that the two-year-old died of strangulation. A pathologist earlier told the court it could have taken about 30 minutes for her to die.

Judge Mahalelo said while handing down her sentence that “rape and murder are undoubtedly serious offences, the accused and other residents in the complex viewed him as a protector”.

“It will not be out of place that ordinary citizens are disgusted by the accused’s conduct. The accused has shown no regret or remorse for his crimes and his conduct shows that he can not be rehabilitated.”

During the trial, Mthiyane told the court that he could not remember what happened on the day of the incident.

The rapist and murderer has two children of his own, aged five and seven, who live with their mothers in KwaZulu-Natal.

Judge Mahalelo denied Mthiyane’s application for leave to appeal.

The victim’s father said the healing process following his daughter’s death has been slow and painful.

“The death of our child has affected me badly, I haven’t been able to work and have not been in good health because my spirit has been down and I know the healing process will take time.”