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Moses Sithole
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 Johannesburg.
 

 

Early life

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 release.
 


Murders

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.
 


Capture

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.
 


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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 belts.

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 in custody.

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 victims.

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