Families demand bodies of serial killer's victims

Multiple murder accused Julius Mndawe. / Thapelo Morebudi/
Multiple murder accused Julius Mndawe. / Thapelo Morebudi/

The families of five young women who were found murdered and buried in shallow graves have demanded that police release their bodies for burials.

Tokie Tlaka, 24, Banele Khoza, 15, Felicia Mndlovo, 17, Noxolo Mdluli, 17, and Nomthandazo Mdluli, 19, were found buried in shallow graves in Mganduzweni village outside Hazyview, Mpumalanga, in July.

Julius Mndawe, 25, has since confessed to killing all of them.

He appeared in the Masoyi magistrate's court yesterday where there was a high presence of community members who bayed for his blood.

He is facing five murder charges. "We can see the police are treating this man like a president, they are protecting him more than us the community and the deceased's families.

"So for now, we just want the bodies of our children to be released so we can bury them in peace. The wait has been very long. We are still mourning while the man who killed our daughters is eating and sleeping well..." said Noxolo's grandmother Caroline Mona outside the court.

Five young women's bodies were found buried in the garden and under the bathroom of Masoyi murder suspect Julius Mndawe on July 14 2019. Mndawe is accused of killing four women and a 15-year-old girl, starting in 2017. The victims were buried below his bathroom floor and in his garden. Mndawe faces five counts of murder, five counts of concealing bodies and two counts of violating corpses. Mndawe remains in custody until July 19 2019, where he will make a formal bail application.

Mndawe had to be whisked away by police after his appearance as angry community members wanted to attack him.

Mndawe, who met Tlaka on Facebook, has since abandoned his bail application fearing for his safety. After his arrest, he pointed out all the bodies which he had buried in his yard, where he had planted either fruits or vegetables on top of each.

Police say postmortems were still being conducted on the bodies to determine their correct identities because they were found at an advanced state of decomposition when they were exhumed.

Masoyi police spokesperson Capt Naniki Nonyane asked the families to be patient.

"We understand the families' frustrations and the fact that they want to bury their loved ones, but we are asking for a bit of time because forensic investigation results are not yet back.

"You will understand that we want to be accurate and release the bodies to their rightful owners," Nonyane said.

The court postponed Mndawe's case to October 1 to allow further police investigations and also to set a date to have the case transferred to the Mpumalanga High Court in Mbombela.

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