Sugarcane deaths: 11th body for DNA

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

A family from Transkei in the Eastern Cape has joined the list of families awaiting DNA results to prove if their missing daughter was yet another victim of the Umzinto sugarcane serial killer.

If the DNA results prove conclusive, it will take to 11 the number of women thought to have been victims of the suspected sugarcane serial killer.

So far, only one of the victims - Nombali Ngcobo from Inanda outside Durban - has been officially identified and her body handed over to her family.

Yesterday, the family of missing Zuzile Tshongaye told Sowetan that they were asked to identify the skeletal remains of a woman. Investigators told them that they suspected the remains were those of Tshongaye "as the suspected serial killer had confessed to murdering her".

She disappeared in January with a man who had promised her work in Port St Johns.

At the time, she was based in Durban where she was searching for a job.

On Friday, Tshongaye's family was taken to the Port St Jones mortuary to identify a body that was exhumed after a certain family in the area erroneously buried it. The body was exhumed a month ago. "Police told me that they had taken my daughter's alleged killer to a place where he had dumped my daughter after killing her and then chopping off her leg and arm," Tshongaye's mother said.

She said police had told her that the scene pointed out by the killer was the same spot where the remains were found, and were claimed and buried by another family in the area.

Last month, police arrested five people, including the suspected kingpin, in connection with the killings of the women whose bodies were found in the sugarcane fields at Shayamoya township in Umzinto on the South Coast.

Charges against three people initially arrested have since been dropped, and only two suspects - the suspected serial killer and his girlfriend - remain in police custody.

The case comes up next month. The names of the suspects in the case are withheld and the court hearings held in camera.