November 17, 1964 -
Moses Sithole is a South African serial killer who committed the
"ABC Murders", so named because they began in Atteridgeville,
continued in Boksburg and finished in Cleveland, a suburb of
Sithole was born in Vosloorus, a poor neighbourhood of Boksburg
in apartheid-era South Africa. When he was five, his father
died, and his mother abandoned the family. Sithole and his
siblings spent the next three years in an orphanage, where he
later said they were mistreated. He ran away back to his mother,
who sent him back to the orphanage. He eventually moved in with
his older brother.
He began raping women in his twenties, claiming three victims
before one finally testified against him. He was sent to prison,
during which he himself was sexually assaulted by other
prisoners. His murder spree began in 1994, shortly after his
Sithole would gain access to victims by pretending to be a
businessman and offering them work, going so far as to invent a
fictional charity organization. Once he had gained their trust,
he would offer to walk them through a veld (an Afrikaans word
literally meaning "field") to the "business headquarters" until
they were out of sight and hearing range; he would then
overpower, rape and strangle them. By 1995, he had claimed over
30 victims, igniting a nationwide panic.
In August 1995, Sithole was identified as having been seen with
one of the victims; police soon discovered details of his fake
business and previous rape conviction. Panicked, he went on the
run. He called journalist Tamsen de Beer, identified himself as
the killer, and arranged a meeting to tell his story. De Beer
notified the police, but Sithole sensed a trap at the meeting
spot and ran. Police shot him twice when he charged them with an
axe, wounding him before taking him into custody. He eventually
confessed to the murders.
Trial and imprisonment
On December 5, 1997, Sithole was sentenced to 2,410 years for
the murders of 38 people committed between 1994 and 1995, along
with 40 rapes and various lesser offenses. That adds up to 12
years for each of the 40 rapes, 50 years for each of the 38
murders, and another five years for each of the six robberies.
His sentences do not run concurrently. There will be no
possibility of parole for at least 930 years (around 2927).
He is incarcerated in C-Max, the maximum security section of
Pretoria Central Prison. He was reported in 2000 to have AIDS.
A surprisingly intelligent and gentle mannered Moses Sithole is
allegedly South Africa's worst serial killer. The suspected
Gauteng serial killer, Sithole was charged in the Pretoria
Supreme Court with 38 charges of murder, 40 charges of rape and
six of robbery. Between 1994 and 1995 he allegedly strangled
women in the Pretoria, Johannesburg and East Rand areas. Most
victims were lured to secluded fields where Sithole allegedly
assaulted, raped and strangled them with their own underwear or
The series of murders started in June 1994, shortly after
Sithole had served house arrest for rape. Between 1994 and 1995
South African authorities were alarmed by the growing number of
dead women appearing around Pretoria and Johannesburg. Several
of the women were left with their hands tied behind their backs.
One woman was blindfolded. Many were found with their heads
covered with clothing. Apparently he murdered his first victim
because she had shouted at him when he asked her for directions.
"I cannot remember her name," he said. "I killed her and left
her there. I went straight home and had a shower."
Robert Ressler, the F.B.I. Behavioral Science Unit's former
chief, was called in to help with the investigation. Ressler
concluded that the killings in Cleveland, a suburb of
Johannesburg, and Boksburg, a suburb of Pretoria, were linked.
In his psychological profile of the killer he indicated the
possibility of two killers acting together.
On October 18, 1995, after a week-long nationwide hunt, police
shot and wounded Moses Sithole, an ax-wielding ex-convict with
six aliases. When he was arrested, authorities thought Sithole
might have been acting in conjunction with David Selepe but no
evidence has been uncovered suggesting that both men knew each
other. Unfortunately for Selepe, he was killed by police while
On October 22, 1996, Sithole appeared in court and was charged
with 38 murders and 40 rapes. On November 14, Sithole's trial
was postponed after the suspect appeared in court looking very
pale and with his pants soaked with blood. The HIV positive
killer was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for a
wound on his knee. According to his defense team, the injury
came from a fall he sustained at Pretoria Central Prison.
A jailhouse confession videotape -- made by Charles Schoeman on
the condition that Sithole and three other prisoners would get a
share of the royalties -- shows a visibly relaxed Sithole in a
cell either smoking or chewing on an apple while giving a
chilling account one of his victim's lasts moments before death.
Sithole -- an avid talker -- was a willing party to a series of
video and audio tapes made by fellow prisoners. In them he told
fellow prisoners that he hated women and felt he was teaching
them "a very good lesson" by murdering them.
Facts contained in the tapes were repeated in a confession to
the police and in a phone conversation with a Johannesburg
journalist. An unknown caller, identified by voice experts as
Sithole, claimed to be the Gauteng serial killer and gave
details of where he had left the bodies of several of his
Sithole officially became South Africa's worst serial killer On
December 5, 1997. when he was found guilty of 38 murders and 40
rapes. Sithole -- who's overwhelming arrogance had ultimately
brought about his downfall -- sat emotionless, taking down notes
throughout the three-hour judgment. After the judgment, he
gathered up his briefcase and left the courtroom with a smile on
his face. The next day, as people in the gallery cheered and
applauded, Sithole was sentenced to 2,410 year in jail.
Relatives of the victims shouted for his head and called for the
return of capital punishment. The judge -- who also made a plea
for the restoration of the death penalty -- said he would have
sentenced Sithole to death without hesitation.
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This web page was last updated on:
24 December, 2008