Limpopo villagers celebrate alleged rapist's death
Villagers from a small community of Shongane in N'wamitwa outside Tzaneen in Limpopo celebrated until midnight on Tuesday after learning about the sudden death in police detention of a man who recently attacked two women with a panga before raping one of them.
After learning about the death of 40-year-old Chikinyongo Madala Masinge, residents held a mini-celebration party as they ululated and danced to the sounds of music played from several cars belonging to local residents.
Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said Masinge was allegedly murdered by fellow inmates at Letsitele police station on the same day he was detained on Tuesday.
Resident Clement Mathebula told Sowetan that he was one of the locals who gathered with others in the street to celebrate Masinge's death.
"I know [it] is not acceptable to celebrate someone's death, but this man deserved it. Our mothers and sisters were no longer free to fetch firewood or walk at night because they feared he would attack them with a panga," he said.
Mathebula said community members were ululating and dancing to music which was played from various cars.
"I left and went home, but the party finished around midnight," he said.
Another resident, who wished not to be named, confirmed that community members were celebrating.
"I didn't know Masinge has died. I heard about it when I passed a group of people dancing and screaming. They told me the most feared criminal in the village has died in the cells," he said.
Masinge was on the run from the police for three weeks after he allegedly raped a 39-year-old woman and cut off a finger of another woman who was with the rape victim.
The women were on their way back home from fetching firewood when they came across the suspect who was wearing a balaclava, according to the police. Mojapelo said the suspect "then managed to grab the victim and slashed her with the panga and raped her".
The incident led to the community launching a massive manhunt for the suspect, but without luck.
A local resident, Edney Ntimbane, said: "Residents were unsettled since the incident took place. And we would like to thank the police for the speedy arrest."
Mojapelo said the police found the badly injured Masinge in one of the cells and called emergency personnel who then certified him dead on arrival.
"The deceased was highly wanted on charges of attempted murder, rape and assault that he allegedly committed around N'wamitwa and other areas under Letsitele policing precinct. He was brought to the Letsitele police cells and detained after his arrest," he said.
Masinge was ultimately arrested at Burgersdorp outside Tzaneen where he was hiding.
Mojapelo said investigations into the circumstances of his killing were continuing.