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Rapist stopped in his tracks

An unsuspecting job-seeker almost fell into the trap of a suspected serial rapist after he accessed her personal details from a job application box at a government building.

The 29-year-old had applied for a post of cashier/clerk as advertised by the City of Ekurhuleni . She dropped her CV into an application box at the municipal offices in Kempton Park on Tuesday at about 8.30am and left.

After only 30 minutes, she received a call from a man who introduced himself as a "manager" at the municipality.

"I wanted a better job with benefits. [Back at the municipal offices] he told me he had received my application and he went through my CV with me . I had no reason to doubt him.

"He said he was looking for four people and I was one of the lucky ones. He said I should give him money for 'cold drink' because he got me a job."

The two made arrangements to meet at Kaalfontein train station outside Tembisa later that day for the payment to be made. "He said he would send someone who would take me to him. The man arrived on foot. He wore a pink shirt and blue jeans and he was clean.

"He said he would take me to the manager. We walked along a road next to the bushes. I told him several times that I was afraid, but he said I should relax and that the place was not that far," she said.

The two walked for about 2km before the woman got cold feet. "I told him that I was going back and he should take the money to the manager alone. He took the money but convinced me not to take a taxi. He said he will stop a taxi for me. That's when an unmarked car arrived and blocked his way."

The occupants of the unmarked car were police officers who had been on the man's trail for some time. "They asked me if I knew the man and why I was walking in the bush with a stranger. I was afraid and confused. They took me to the police station where they took my statement and later took me home."

Police spokesman Captain Manyadza Ralidzhivha said the man has been operating between the Kaalfontein and Birchleigh train stations for some time and targeted vulnerable job-seekers.

"In some cases, he lured women to the bushes, telling them that he was taking them to a nearby company where he worked.

"When they arrived at his spot he sprayed them with pepper spray and dragged them into the bushes where he robbed and raped them."

After the arrest, victims who had opened cases of rape and robbery in the area identified him as their attacker.

"Eight women identified him and he was charged with eight counts of rape and eight counts of robbery," said Ralidzhivha.

"I feel lucky. I can't believe I was exposed to such danger. I feel loved by God. He saved my life. I am grateful to those police officers. Had they not arrived when they did, bad things could have happened to me. They saved my life," the woman said.

Ralidzhivha appealed to women who were attacked by the man to come forward.

City of Ekurhuleni spokesman Themba Gadebe said no one was expected to pay for municipal jobs. "Applicants should be aware that the city is guided by a recruitment policy. The policy does not promote selling of jobs or bribery, it is an open process that seeks to give Ekurhuleni job-seekers an opportunity to work for the city. Anybody who calls an applicant to solicit bribes ... the applicant must contact the police because that is criminal.

"While we understand the anxiety of the unemployed people, we would like to warn them not to fall for traps," Gadebe said.

"It's important to note that the box is not a movable box, it's built-in compartments under security guard.

"It is impossible for anyone outside the compartment to access or retrieve CVs that are already slotted in.

"This brings the importance of whistle-blowing at the point when the perpetrator makes contact to enable us to get to the bottom of this issue."

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