South Africa’s 11 deadliest serial killers murdered 205 people

29 May 2014 - 12:59
By Pericles Anetos

Here's a look at the deadliest serial killers who stalked and murdered South Africans by the dozen.

1. Moses Sithole also known as the “ABC Killer” or “The South African Strangler” (38 murders) 1994-1995.

Moses Sithole carried out killings in Atteridgeville, Boksburg and Cleveland between 1994 to 1995.

Sithole baited women by offering them jobs at a children’s home in Benoni. Most of his victims were strangled with their own clothing, such as belts and underwear.

He was arrested in 1995 when he was trying to obtain a firearm from a family member. During the arrest Sithole attacked an undercover police officer with an axe and was shot three times.

Sithole faced 38 charges of murder and 40 charges of rape.

A recording of conversation Sithole had with his fellow inmates while he was in prison revealed his motives to the court.

Sithole hated black women so much that he could not stop himself from killing at least four a month.

The tapes revealed that Sithole’s dislike for women came from being falsely accused of rape in 1989 and serving four years in prison.

“I fully hate black women and even if I came back to earth as a black man I could never want a black women …I would rather masturbate.”

Sithole was sentenced to 2410 years in prison.

His sentence is made up of 12 years for each of the 40 rapes he committed, 50 years for each of the 38 murders and another 5 years for each of his six robberies.

His sentences do not run concurrently. There will be no possibility of parole for at least 930 years.

Sithole is currently in C-Max, the maximum security section of Pretoria Central Prison.

2. Elifasi Msomi, also known as the “The Axe Killer” (15 murders) 1953-1955

Elifasi Msomi blamed the tokoloshe  for the 15 murders he committed between 1953-1955, saying that it told him to kill his victims.

He posed as a doctor luring his victims into going with him to remote places and used an axe to kill his victims. The murders took place in KwaZulu-Natal .

He was hanged in Pretoria Central Prison on Friday, February 10, 1956

3. Jack Mogale also known as the “West-End serial killer” (16 murders) 2008 -2009

For two years Jack Madumetsa Mogale was involved in a gruesome reign of terror that targeted women in the west of Johannesburg.

Mogale lured 15 women and one child to deserted fields in Westonaria, Venterspost and Lenasia. He struck his victims with blunt objects, then raped and strangled them.

Mogale strangled 11 of his victims using panties, clothing and handbag straps. In other cases, he subdued victims by beating them with bricks or a sharp object and then strangling them with his bare hands.

Many of the victims were found partially naked near the West End Clay Bricks factory in Zuurbekom, where Mogale lived.

He was arrested in March 2009. 

Mogale escaped from police custody a few days after he had been locked up. He escaped by posing as a fellow inmate who was being transferred to court, he was later found in the court toilets and taken back into custody.

One of his victims had to undergo facial reconstructive surgery she was so badly beaten by him. Mogale repeatedly bashed her head with a brick before raping her and leaving her for dead. Her face was so damaged that her jaw shifted almost entirely to the left, she told the court when she testified against Mogale. Her head wounds were even infested with maggots.

Mogale faced 61 counts of rape, murder, kidnapping and attempted murder. He was found guilty of 52 charges – 19 of rape, 16 of murder, nine of kidnapping and attempted murder, among them.

He was sentenced to 16 life sentences which are running concurrently. He was sentenced without the possibility of parole.

4. Christopher Mhlengwa Zikode, also known as the “Donnybrook Serial Killer” (18 murders) 1994-1995

Christopher Mhlengwa Zikode was behind the murders and rapes of 18 people in Donnybrook KwaZulu-Natal between 1994 – 1995.

Zikode committed five of the offences he was convicted of after he was released on R300 bail in August 1995.

Zikode was sentenced to five life and further sentences totalling 140 years in prison.

5. Sipho Thwala also known as the “Phoenix Strangler’’ (19 murders) 1996-1997

Sipho Agmatir Thwala became the most wanted man in KwaZulu-Natal during a year-long killing spree in the sugarcane fields of Mount Edgecombe, near the small town of Phoenix.

known as the “Phoenix Strangler’’ or “cane field serial killer”, Thwala raped and strangled 19 victims with their underwear before burying them in shallow graves.

Thwala lured his victims into the killing fields by offering them employment.

He was acquitted of rape and murder charges in 1994 – the same year the first victim was found in a cane field.

He was sentenced to 506 years in prison for the killings.

6. Cedric Maake also known as the “Wemmer Pan Killer” (27 murders) 1996 -1997

One of the worst serial killers in South Africa’s history, Cedric Maake murdered 27 people and raped 14.

Maake was found guilty of 27 of the 34 murders he was charged with; he was found guilty of 26 of the 28 attempted murder charges and found guilty of 14 of the 15 rapes he was charged with.

Maake was described as a “unique serial killer”. Unlike most multiple murderers, he did not fixate on one type of victim or method and his motives remain a mystery.

His victims ranged from a 74 year-old tailor he murdered with a hammer to a 15-year-old teenager on her way home from a disco with her boyfriend.

The murders were so varied, with no underlining pattern of gender, age or race, that police at the time believed they were investigating at least two different serial killers.

Only when the evidence from the two different cases started overlapping did the police realise it was a single individual committing the murders.

In 1998 Maake was finally caught when he sold a bicycle at a pawn shop. The bike had been stolen from Gerhard Lavoo, murdered in 1997.

When the police found the pawn shop receipt they realised that Maake, who had been arrested a few weeks earlier for attempted murder and rape, was the man behind the grim murder spree.

Maake still maintained his innocence during the trial, claiming that there was a conspiracy against him.

He is currently serving a 1340-year prison sentence.

7. David Randitsheni, also known as the “Modimolle serial killer” (10 murders) 2004-2008.

David Randitsheni committed a series of murders, rapes and kidnappings of children between 2004 and 2008.

He was sentenced to 16 life terms and 220 years in prison. He only be eligible for parole after serving at least 35 years in prison.

8. Bulelani Mabhayi  also known as the “Tholeni serial killer” (20 murders ) 2007-2011

Bulelani Mabhayi was the serial killer who terrorised the village of Tholeni near Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.

Mabhayi started his murder spree in 2007, preying on the weak and vulnerable women and children of the village.

He murdered his victims with an axe or panga. The road that led to his arrest was littered with the bodies of his 20 victims, nine of which were children and 11 women. His youngest victims were an 18-month-old baby.

In 2011 shoe prints smeared in his victim’s blood led to Mabhayi’s capture. The police discovered the “abnormally large” shoe print. The shoe size and make were not common in the village and a detective remembered seeing Mabhayi wearing large shoes.

The police arrested Mabhayi, just 500m down a narrow road from the latest murder scene.

Mabhayi was sentenced to 25 life sentences after pleading guilty to 36 charges — 20 of murder, six of rape and 10 of housebreaking.

9. Jimmy Maketta, also known as the “Jesus Killer” (16 murders) April -December 2005

Jimmy Maketta targeted the township of Philippi outside Cape Town between April and December 2005.

He was convicted on 16 counts of murder, 19 counts of rape. He was sentenced to life in prison.

10. Stewart Wilken also known as the “Boetie Boer” (10 murders) 1990 – 1997

Serial killer Stewart Wilken preyed on the street children and women in Port Elizabeth from 1990 to 1997. He was convicted of seven counts of murder and two counts of sodomy.

Wilken confessed to murdering 10 people including his 11-year-old daughter, and five counts of sodomy. But the state prosecutor failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the two skeletons and a decomposed body found where Wilken said he had sodomised and killed three street children were those of his victims.

Wilken admitted to eating the flesh of one of his victims in crazed drugged state after becoming addicted to dagga and mandrax. He cut off the nipples of his fourth victim, a 42-year-old women and swallowed them.

During the trial Wilken gave a statement where he gave a detailed account of how in the act of strangling his victims, he experienced sexual climax – even if the victims were dead.

Wilken also described how he also strangled his daughter, Wuane because he “had no choice”. He said he saw his daughter was not a virgin. He believed she had been raped by her stepfather.

Wilken claimed during his trial that he was sodomised and abused as a child by a church deacon.

He stated that he did not want her to go through what he had.

He closed his eyes and said “God you must forgive me but I am sending my child’s soul to you.

Wilken was sentenced to seven terms of life imprisonment.

11. Elias Xitavhudzi, also known as the “Pangaman” murdered (16 murders) 1960s

Elias Xitavhudzi was the Pangaman that stalked Atteridgeville in Pretoria in the 1960s.

All his victims were white women. He would torture and mutilate them with a machete or a panga before he killed them.

After Xitavhudzi's trial he was hanged.