Disappointment as 'Mtwalume serial killer' commits suicide

Police minister Bheki Cele addressed the community of Mthwalume on Monday.
Police minister Bheki Cele addressed the community of Mthwalume on Monday.
Image: GCIS

Police had a strong case against the man linked to the killings of women in Mtwalume, KwaZulu-Natal, who allegedly committed suicide in custody.

His co-accused, who is still alive, will now be released as prosecutors were not pleased with the evidence against him.

Speaking to angry residents on Monday morning regarding the spate of women killings in the area, police minister Bheki Cele said prosecutors warned police that there was strong evidence against the man who is now dead than the one scheduled to appear in court.

The two men were arrested last week after a fifth body of an unidentified woman in her 20s was discovered on a sugar cane farm. The pair was expected to appear in Umzumbe magistrate’s court on Monday, but one of them allegedly committed suicide.

“There were things belonging to the deceased women that were found in the house of the man who allegedly committed suicide. These are things like cellphones which he used and they belonged to the deceased. Actually, four dockets linked him with the crimes. We were saddened when we learned that he is no more.

“The challenge is that the man who died is the one who gave us evidence that link us to the second suspect. The second suspect denied any involvement in the crime. Yesterday, this man went around and showed us where he dumped the bodies of the women. He was due to point other spots today before appearing in court and then he died,” Cele said.

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He added: “He told the police that there were more women who have been killed than the number that has been already found. It is for that reason that we have strengthen the team of investigators working on this case. There is a lot that we have to unravel here.”

Cele said he saw the picture of the man hanging in the police cells in Scottsburg, Durban, and his death would be investigated by Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

Bodies of  Zama Chiliza, who disappeared on July 6, was found last Tuesday by women gathering wood.

Bodies of neighbours Akhona Gumede and Nosipho Gumede and that of Nelisiwe Dube were found in sugar cane fields in April and July respectively.

These discoveries have led to communities suspecting that there is a serial killer operating in Mthwalume, something police said could not be ruled out.

Community members gathered outside the court on Monday demanding answers on the killing of a total of five women in Mthwalume, in the same area.

They questioned Cele as to how a man in police custody would have something to hang himself with in the cells. Cele reassured the people that the death of the man would be investigated and police would strengthen their investigations on the killing of the women.

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