suspected serial killer arrested

POLICE believe they have made a breakthrough in their search for a suspected serial killer near Empangeni on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

Police put out an alert about a possible serial killer after the bodies of two women in their early 20s were discovered.

They had both been raped and strangled.

Nomthandazo Ncube, 26, was found dead on Saturday morning near her home in Nhlangenyuke, Mtunzini.

Nonhlanhla Mbonambi, 23, was found dead in an open veld in Obonjeni on Women's Day on Sunday. She was a student at the Mangosuthu University of Technology.

Late on Wednesday, detectives arrested a man in his 30s. They believe he is positively linked to Mbonambi's murder.

Inspector Mbongiseni Mdlalose said there was also a strong possibility that the suspect was linked to the murders of both women.

"We suspect that the killer of Ncube and Mbonambi is one and the same.

"They were first raped and then strangled. And the distance between the scenes is a few kilometres away from each other," he said.

Mdlalose said investigations would determine whether the alleged killer of Mbonambi worked alone or had a companion.

The family of Mbonambi said yesterday they were devastated by the "senseless killing".

Her family and friends were returning home after attending a traditional ceremony nearby when they spotted her belongings on the side of the road.

"My sister's body was found by accident. We saw her shoes by the road side.

"And when we called her cellphone, it rang in the nearby bush. That led to the discovery of her body," said Simphiwe Mbonambi.

Police believe Mbonambi was attacked while on her way home. Items belonging to her attacker were also discovered at the scene.

"Next to my sister's naked body was a T-shirt and shoes that led police to the suspect. We asked the community who was wearing the clothes found at the scene and the man was identified."

Mbonambi said at first the suspect confessed to the murder but later denied he was responsible for the murder.