Fears as serial killings suspect goes free

Frank Maponya

It's back to the drawing board for the police in Limpopo after the man they had arrested for a string of serial killings in Modimolle proved to be the wrong person.

It emerged yesterday that the suspect was not the culprit the police were looking for.

The man was arrested on January 29 after an intensive search in connection with 19 charges, including the rape and murders of young children in Phahameng Location.

At the time of his arrest, police boasted about having made a breakthrough by arresting "the right suspect". They claimed one of his rape victims had positively identified him at an identification parade.

The suspect was scheduled to appear in the Modimolle magistrate's court yesterday, but reporters were told he had appeared a day earlier when the charges against him were withdrawn.

He had been facing one charge of rape, with the possibility of more charges being pressed against him, pending further investigations.

But Renier van Rooyen, the senior public prosecutor at Modimolle, said the case against the suspect had to be withdrawn because DNA tests conducted on the victims and the suspect came back negative.

Disappointment was written on the faces of members of the community who had come to court to hear proceedings against a man they described as a "monster".

The community said they now lived in fear, not knowing when the perpetrator would strike again and who would fall victim.

Dorah Malete, 36, whose two children were found dead in mountains in April 2005, three months after they disappeared, said she feared for her life after developments in the case.

Senior Superintendent Motlafela Mojapelo said the withdrawal of the charges was "a temporary setback".