Take care, said 'campus killer'

25 July 2014 - 02:13 By Sipho Masombuka, Kingdom Mabuza and Graeme Hosken
University of Venda. File photo.
University of Venda. File photo.
Image: wikimedia commons

The man suspected of being the University of Venda serial killer and rapist was very protective of women and warned those with whom he shared a rented house "never go out at night because people are getting killed" in Thohoyandou, Limpopo.

The BSc student, popular for his ability as a pool player, is facing 16 charges, including murder, attempted murder, rape, aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

According to the student's 20-year-old housemate in Golgotha, Thohoyandou, the third-year bio-chemistry student always made sure that their doors were locked.

"When bodies were being discovered, he warned us never to go out at night because Golgotha was getting dangerous," the student, who has shared the house with the suspect for more than a year, said.

She said the man was never visited except by his father and two girlfriends.

"He had pictures of women on his wall," she said.

Classmates and neighbours described him as respectful.

"I can't believe this is the man who always motivated us, the man I was close to as a friend and enjoyed watching play pool in the university cafeteria," said a 21-year-old student.

The student was on the verge of qualifying for his four-year BSc degree in food science and technology.

He is said to have been awarded a bursary by the Limpopo department of agriculture.

A provincial police task team tracked him down early this week.

Accompanied by members of the police's Tactical Response Team, they descended on his house on Tuesday night.

"He was on his bed watching television," said provincial police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi. "He did not resist. The police searched his room and found items linked to some of the deceased."

A police source involved in the operation said the suspect was tracked through cellphones of the murder victims in his possession.

The shackled student appeared calm as Thohoyandou magistrate Olga Sigwavhulimu read out the counts on which he was being charged.

Public order police struggled to control about 200 people packing the public gallery of the court.

Outside the court, security guards kept at bay about 1000 angry students and community members .

The 24-year-old is accused of killing, raping, robbing and kidnapping student Livhuwani Mmbodi, 22, Tshililo Ndou, 9, Alice Mashau, 8, and cleaner Brenda Ndove, 45, between March and last month.

Their bodies were found dumped in and around the campus.

He is also accused of the attempted murder of student Shudufhadzo Thagisa, 20, in May. Thagisa is fighting for her life in a Gauteng hospital.

The president of the University of Venda Students' Representative Council, Uhuru Mofokeng, recalled that the suspect was humble and reserved, "speaking only when spoken to".

Dr Jackie de Wet, a forensic psychologist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said serial killers looked "incredibly normal".

"They do not have bloodshot eyes or foam at the mouth. They are often highly sociable, easily blending into society, holding down steady jobs, with girlfriends and wives.

"They use this to get close to their victims."

The case was postponed to October 21 for further investigation.

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