South African police say a Zimbabwean man arrested for possession of a stolen mobile phone is in fact a serial killer responsible for the deaths of at least seven women.
Themba Prince Willard Dube, 36, allegedly lured his victims by promising them jobs through social media. Police say he robbed, raped and killed the victims whose bodies turned up in wooded areas in Seshego, Polokwane, Mankweng and Westernburg in Limpopo Province.
The killings were allegedly committed between August and October.
The man was arrested for possession of a stolen mobile phone.
Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo of South African police told the SABC: “We have arrested a 36-year-old suspect whom we believe to be responsible for a series of murders whose victims were all women.
“We can confirm that seven bodies have already been recovered from different locations under Seshego, Polokwane and western policing areas.
“The suspect is being charged with murder, rape, defeating the ends of justice and robbery.”
The family of 42-year-old Sarah Mothiba, from Ga-Chuene village, said she was last seen leaving home for work in Polokwane on October 18.
Days later, they allegedly heard from the suspect who demanded R2,500 ransom, promising to release Mothiba.
Family spokesperson Violet Rakoma-Mothiba says: “We are unable to accept what happened, he tricked us and made us pay ransom money promising to release Sarah.
“He stole cash that Sarah had, he withdrew her money at the bank and made the family pay ransom money and ended up killing her.”
The family believes the suspect was not working alone.
Sarah’s husband John Mothiba said: “We are hurt, justice must prevail. He must disclose the names of the people he was working with; I don’t believe he was alone in this crime. I hope the police can also help to make him disclose the names.”
Dube appeared before the Seshego Magistrate’s Court on Monday accused of the murders of Sarah Mothiba, Moleboheng Mothibeli, Khomotso Makhura, Sanah Sinyatsi, Andrea Cholo, Chisimango Gumbo and Jane Letswalo.
When asked by magistrate Celia Harris if he wanted to appoint his own lawyer or have state legal representation, Dube said he would conduct his own defence.
“I’ll just have to tell the truth. I’m not going to deny anything,” Dube told the court.
However, Harris warned him about the implications of opting to represent himself.
“The court advises you to get legal representation. There are some processes that we have to follow and you are not vested in law,” Harris told the accused.
But Dube insisted that he would represent himself. “I’m not going to deny anything,” he said.
The court heard that Dube was in the country illegally.
The matter was postponed to January 27, 2022.