A South African man has been sentenced to two life terms in prison for his role in the gang-rape and murder of a teenage girl that shocked the country.

The court sentenced 21-year-old Johannes Kana for the brutal murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen, who was found disemboweled at a construction site east of Cape Town in February.

She was attacked after visiting a pub and found by a security guard and later died in a hospital.

Kana pleaded guilty to punching, kicking and raping Booysen, but denied killing her.

He also denied causing "extensive genital injuries" which, according to prosecutors, caused "her intestines to protrude from her genital area and, ultimately, caused her death".

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomed Friday's sentencing, describing it as a victory for victims of sexual violence across the country.

"We know it will not be able to bring back Anene Booysen or lessen what happened to her," said the authority's spokesman, Eric Ntabazalila.

Before her death Booysen had reportedly named a number of her attackers, but charges were dropped against two other suspects for lack of evidence.

Booysen's rape and murder sparked an outcry in South Africa where about 65,000 sexual offences are committed a year, according to official figures.

But police estimate that only one in 36 rape cases get reported.

The government has welcomed the sentencing, saying South Africans should reflect on the impact of violence against females in a country that suffers a high rate of rape.

President Jacob Zuma had described the attack on Booysen as "shocking, cruel and most inhumane".

"We must never allow ourselves to get used to these acts of base criminality to our women and children."

The 21-year-old perpetrator will serve his terms concurrently.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies