'Net closing in on serial killer'

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Police are confident that they are close to making a breakthrough in the case of the alleged KwaZulu-Natal South Coast serial killer who has so far strangled five women and left their bodies scattered in a local sugarcane field.

Sowetan learnt yesterday that thanks to the evidence of one woman - who nearly became a victim of the "serial killer" but managed to escaped in the nick of time - detectives are close to compiling an identikit of the killer.

Police spokesman Zandra Hechter said a key witness in the investigation sat next to the alleged killer on a minibus taxi bound for Shayamoya.

"She fortunately did not meet him as they had planned. Instead she returned home. She has provided us with vital information."

She said she could not reveal the exact details or time lines but was confident of a "breakthrough" very soon.

Hechter said a team of 30 detectives will continue to comb the sugarcane plantation at Shayamoya to make certain that there are no other bodies.

At this stage detectives have only identified one of the victim's as 35-year-old Nombali Ngcobo from Inanda. Police sniffer dogs are being used in the search.

"I can confirm that we will later this week release the identity of the other victims. We are awaiting DNA and forensic results plus a confirmation of identity from the victims' families," said Hechter.

The serial killer's victims' ages are between 18 and 35 years. The killer apparently lures them with promises of jobs and then rapes and strangles them.

"Detectives are investigating the job link as they have discovered several CVs next to some of the decomposed bodies," she said.

Hechter also congratulated the community for assisting police in their investigations.

"A lot of people have come forward with information. We want to assure the community that we are close to a breakthrough. We will also set up a community helpline as part of this case."

She said an expert in physiological crime investigations, Gerhard Labuschagne, from Pretoria, has been assisting local detectives with the case.

"Labuschagne has been informed of all the latest developments in the case," said Hechter.